Gun control debate following the unthinkable in CT may only further polarize political parties.
Americans have gone through so many massacres involving firearms or bombs, these episodes start to run together in one's mind.
And the political response was utterly predictable: Politicians and others condemning the violence, saying their "thoughts & prayers" were with the families of the victims, efforts would be made to examine security issues, etc.
But hardly anyone dared suggest a renewed national debate on guns, particularly assault weapons and on our treatment (or lack thereof) of Americans with mental issues.
It's tempting to say that after the Newtown news recedes - when we no longer see images of children, teddy bears, funerals, and burials - the emotions will fade, and we'll return to business as usual. (Unless of course, God forbid, we see another similar bloodletting soon, and that's certainly within the realm of possibility.)
But could the Newtown massacre have unleashed new political winds? I suspect so.
The Democratic Party always had members of Congress and others perceived as generally pro-gun, typically from the nation's interior, orthodox enough on the weapons issue to get the nod of the National Rifle Association. Exhibit A: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Newtown appears to have shaken these pro-gun Democrats. Now, they at least profess to be open to a renewed debate, particularly on assault weapons.
In contrast, the Republicans have been largely silent.
Result: The aftermath of the Newtown tragedy may simply further polarize the two political parties, much as they have been polarized on so many issues.
Unanswered: As the type of issue that can rally suburban parents, do Republican leaders make a political calculation that this represents another "losing" issue for the G.O.P., just like immigration and the social issues?
Interestingly, Joe Scarborough, the former Republican Congressman-turned-MSNBC host, has apparently had second thoughts about his previous 2nd Amendment absolutism. (No doubt, some of his conservative fans will pronounce him brainwashed from working so long at MSNBC!)
The NEW YORK TIMES chronicles the pro-gun Democratic lawmakers signaling their openness to consideration of limits on automatic weapons...
Correction: Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif) is proposing to renew the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.
This bill will pull down the veneer to show how extreme certain Republican legislators are, that they won't ban weapons of mass destruction used to kill schoolchildren.
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 8:39am
I don't know if it necessarily represents a "correction", teatime.
Senator Feinstein, to my knowledge, always favored restraints on guns, just didn't push the issue very much in recent years.
More telling is when someone like Senator Joe Manchin III (D-WV), who ran a campaign commercial showing him firing a rifle into a piece of legislation serving as a target (See above NYT article), now declares "everything should be on the table" as gun control is debated.
I could imagine a few Republicans in the Senate coming out in favor of another ban on assault weapons; it's the House Republicans who will mount fierce resistance.
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 10:33am
The Constitution gives us the right to own weapons for protection and of course we can use them for hunting and sport. It gives a militia the right to be armed.
The militia is the National Guard, not the individual citizen. While there may be a reason for the Guard to have automatic weapons, the average deer hunter has no such need. The NRA has argued that any restriction on weapons is a slippery slope we must avoid. That has ceased to be a valid argument.
I listened to Rush yesterday. He simply said that he did not have an answer to this problem. That is going to be the temporary Republican response until their polls tell them how to react. But the Libertarians and G.O.P. are going to have to change their thinking. There must be a limit on guns and who can obtain them.
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 11:50am
JimH: Automatic weapons are already illegal, you must obtain a Class 3 Weapons License from the federal government to legally possess one.
A militia (as defined by co-author of 2nd Amendment George Mason) is composed of private citizens...the National Guard was defined as a "standing army". "To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."~George Mason
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 12:07pm
"...actions the president could take by himself ordering federal agencies like the Social Security Administration to provide information to the background check system when benefits recipients have been deemed mentally ill or when employees and job applicants fail drug tests would have only a minor impact relative to things that Congress could do, and that issuing such an order by itself could reduce momentum for greater action."
The ideas from the NYT article above actually make sense and move in the right direction of addressing the problem. It could have helped in this situation as well as Tuscon AZ and Colorado.
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 1:43pm
Senator Feinstein was on TV yesterday, talking about a specific bill that will be introduced when Congress convenes in early 2013. It's a bill that would reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired back in 2004.
It would be interesting to see what Mr. Grey thinks is the legitimate use of an assault weapon besides killing people.
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 2:19pm
teatime: Many states allow the use of AR-15s for deer hunting...the states who do not allow their use is due to the .223 being considered too small in size. Would you prefer to only outlaw the smaller caliber?
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 2:29pm
teatime: can you please give your definition of what makes a weapon an assault weapon?
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 3:59pm
An assault weapon is any weapon that was clearly designed for war.
Are you going duck hunting with hand grenades?
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 6:18pm
We had an assault weapon ban for ten years - with NO EFFECT whatsoever. None!! We also had the mass killings in England - subsequent control legislation did NOTHING. We had the Australian debacle in 1996 followed by what could be described as the most draconian laws in the world, with NO EFFECT. Please look at the evidence. Sure there were shootings there, but no changes. Gun control via legislation is totally useless, like banning marijuana or banning alcohol. Only the criminals, who are well-funded with guns by the Fed, will have them. All of these incidents, whether it is schools or a theater (which was the only one in the area with signs banning guns) strongly point to the profound victimization of folk where guns are banned - we need to permit teachers to carry weapons as is done very successfully in Israel. We must focus on the profound lack of mental health perspective - many of the meds we prescribe have warnings in Europe, with very little recognition of their danger here. Psychiatrists as a community have to take far more responsibility for their mistakes and oversights. And this huge rush to empty the psych hospitals is a mistake - should be done much more slowly. Moreover, there is a lot to this story (think 90 percent) that has not come out, such as the fathers of this and another recent shooting both testifying for the Libor scam! People in the intelligence and financial fields often swap back and forth - a little-known fact. Furthermore, this shooter did not use his AR-15, though the bodies were riddled with the AR weapon ammunition, which means the earlier stories of a second or third shooter are solidly correct. Only one agency has that kind of power to pull shooters and also suppress a story (Crooks In Action). I understand your anger, but I wish we could be half as angry over the Afghans who have far more kids die via our U.S. drones or the thousands of mutated kids being born in Iraq.
Strict laws do NOT reduce the incidence. In 1989 a gunman in highly gun-controlled Canada shot and killed 14-victims at Ιcole Polytechnique in Montreal. The Norway shooter in July 2011 took out 69 people...again, another strict gun law country.
Lets see, 526 days after Ft. Hood we're just now getting around to pretrial hearings? Law enforcement/ courts need to seriously clean up their act too.
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 8:48pm
According to Drudge the killer's mom was trying to have him committed...and he snapped.
teatime: FYI shotguns are used for ducks AND war...
Wed, Dec 19, 2012 12:30am
I checked that source of the "committed" story, and that source is rather dubious.. Could possibly be a fame searcher to whom allegedly the information was confided one late night in the bar where the shooters mom used to hang out. It could be true, or it could be made up. If true, one of the asylums would have leaked she contacted them about Adam at this late date, considering the publicity. So, I give the committed story an 80% untruthful rating....
It's funny how that works.. The first source is very careful to describe the dubious nature of the charge being made. Then, another source reports, since they don't have permission and intimate details, that "it is being reported that" and then the charge. The reason is to protect for libel. They don't know if the charge is true. However, reporting that another publication reported it, ..is true,.. so they can't be sued. Then other publications report that "several publications are reporting that..." Then if you aren't reporting it, and you see it, suddenly you are behind the 8 ball, so you announce the story as well. Soon the talk show hosts, put it up, treating it as true, and people start calling in with their opinions... Since it is on the airwaves 24/7 ... the average person, assumes it is true, and they pass it on in their conversations... "Did you hear that..."..
Bottom line, turns out it was one drunk making up the story to get one reporter to interview him/her on tv.
Wed, Dec 19, 2012 12:41am
And to those who argue that having an assault ban did not prevent every tragedy (Columbine was during that time frame)... the correct response is: but we will never know how many tragedies would have happened, but could not occur, because of that ban.
So, what we can do is track the frequency of mass killing before, during, and after the assault ban. The data shows a decrease of deaths during the ban.
If ones goal is to cut down on the number of innocent 100% of the time...
And I'll add this I borrow from on a comment in another Delaware blog, Delaware Libertarian.
If 99.9999% of people with boxcutters never have any intention of bringing down an airplane, it is absolutely, utterly ridiculous to search and confiscate boxcutters on passengers boarding airplanes....
Now apply that argument to guns....
Wed, Dec 19, 2012 1:01am
Here's a link to a song which describes the only thing that will solve that problem, and all other problems.
Mike from Delaware
Wed, Dec 19, 2012 8:06am
Mrpizza: Good praise song. I've always been blessed by hearing the Hosanna Praise series, sweet praise indeed. We as a nation are a long way away from his point, but that is the goal to have our entire nation come to HIM.
Mike from Delaware
Wed, Dec 19, 2012 1:17pm
Welcome aboard Brucef: In response to your claims about the tougher laws overseas in Australia, etc., not having any effect I'd have to disagree and present this commentary from the NY Times as my evidence that uses a study done by Harvard to back its position.
Please understand: "brucef" is never going to accept any evidence from Harvard and The NEW YORK TIMES. All part of the conspiracy!
kavips: Legally, you can't libel dead people!
Mike from Delaware
Wed, Dec 19, 2012 3:30pm
Allan: brucef is entitled to his opinions and his "conspiracy theories", as we all are, but he's not entitled to his own version of the facts (Yes, I stole that from Mitt Romney).
Brucef's opinions dim and lose credibility if he chooses to totally ignore facts (partly why I dislike Rush and Jensen). Like Harvard and the NY Times or not, neither are exactly lightweight institutions and Harvard apparently did a study on this issue; the results are in the article by clicking on a link embedded in the NY Times article. So the NY Times isn't making a statement based only on its opinion; the paper is backing it up with the Harvard study.
My point in making my reply to brucef was to offer some documented info supporting my point-of-view. He offered his point, with no supporting documented info to support it. I am hoping he will offer some documented info to support his viewpoint.
Whether he chooses to believe and accept the Harvard study, because it was published in the "evil liberal NY Times" is not my problem. I'm open to reading some other documented info that would support his point-of-view, if he could find some. Either the problem decreased in Australia and those other places or it didn't. The Harvard study says it did. End of discussion as far as I'm concerned.
Add your comment: Attention: In an attempt to promote a level of civility and personal
responsibility in blog discussions, we now require you to be a member of
the WDEL Members Only Group in order to post a comment. Your Members
Only Group username and password are required to process your post.
You can join the WDEL Members Only Group for free by clicking here.
If you are already a member but have forgotten your username or password, please
Please register your post with your WDEL Members Only Group username and password below.