Fifty-eight percent of Americans now say they favor stricter gun laws, up from 43% in October 2011. And the American public, which favored enforcing existing gun laws over passing new ones by a 60%-35% in 2011, now is split on the issue, with 46% favoring enforcing current laws and 47% favoring passing new ones.
In terms of specific laws, however, the ban on assault weapons, which are a favorite target of gun control advocates — including Obama — hasn’t gained any significant support, according to the poll. Forty-four percent support such a move and 51% are against it. In October 2011, 43% supported an assault weapons ban and 51% said they were against it.
When Twenty Minutes Is Forever. According to the CNN timeline for the Sandy Hook tragedy, “Police and other first responders arrived on scene about 20 minutes after the first calls.” Twenty minutes. Five minutes is forever when violence is underway, but 20 minutes — a third of an hour — means that the “first responders” aren’t likely to do much more than clean up the mess.
This has led to calls — in Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, St. Louis — for armed officers or staff at schools. Some object. But we have people with guns protecting airports, hospitals and politicians. And leading anti-gun crusaders like New York’s billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg and press lord Rupert Murdoch are protected by armed security teams that could probably topple some third-world governments. Why are our children less worthy of protection?
Then there are our homes. If police took twenty minutes to respond at a school, how likely are they to get to your house in time? For those of us without “security teams,” the answer isn’t reassuring.
E. Fuller Torrey and Doris A. Fuller recently explained on these pages how the dismantling of public psychiatric hospitals that began in the late 1960s was a social catastrophe. Thousands of unstable people were released into a world with few medical or cultural guardrails, and there are even fewer restraints today…
After every gun trauma, people call for a “conversation” about how to manage these disorders of the mind, but like the gun “conversation” that liberals want to have, it never advances. A Hartford judge named Robert K. Killian Jr. has been arguing for a bill in the Connecticut legislature that would give the state the authority to forcibly medicate and stabilize people with severe mental disabilities like schizophrenia for up to 120 days. Judge Killian is working from his own experience with repeat offenders, but Democrats keep killing the bill on civil liberties grounds.
A good-faith effort to modernize mental health law also requires the political right to answer some hard questions. The often squalid and brutal mental asylum system of the 1950s isn’t coming back, and it shouldn’t. Can the social service planners who can’t run health care, education or public housing be trusted to identify when erratic, disruptive or alarming behavior tips over into pathological danger? Probably not, but states with so-called assisted outpatient treatment laws have shown results in limiting violence among the mentally ill.
This strikes us as a more promising path to reduce the number of mass shootings than another long and politically frustrating battle over gun control.
Teach our kids about the acts of heroes in times of crisis. Tell them about Newtown teacher Vicki Soto’s self-sacrifice and bravery. Tell them about Clackamas-mall shopper Nick Meli, a concealed-carry-permit holder whose quick action may have prevented additional deaths. Tell them about Family Research Council security guard Leo Johnson, who protected workers from a crazed gunman. Tell them about the heroic men in the Aurora movie theater who gave their lives taking bullets for their loved ones. Tell them about armed Holocaust Museum security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns, who died fighting back against the museum’s nutball attacker. Tell them about armed private citizen Jeanne Assam, who gunned down the New Life Church attacker in Colorado Springs and saved untold lives.
Train our kids. When they see something troublesome or wrong, they should say something. Students, teachers, and parents: If a young classmate exhibits bizarre or violent behavior toward himself or herself, report it right away. If it gets ignored, say it louder. Don’t give up. Don’t just shrug off the “weirdo” saying or doing dangerous things, and don’t just hope someone else will act…
We still don’t know the medical condition of the Newtown shooter. But we do know that social stigmas are strong. We don’t need government to take immediate, individual action to break those stigmas. There are millions of children, teens, and young adults suffering from very real mental illnesses. Be silent no more about your family’s experiences, your struggles, your pains, and your fears. Speak up.
Their post-Newtown strategy was always to prevent an effective response from the pro-gun freedom side by both rapid action and by demonization. But the holidays and the kabuki theater that is the fiscal cliff drama meant that legislative action, their Holy Grail, would have to wait. That gave people time to think and the gun freedom side the time to react…
But gun freedom advocates fought back. Using the mainstream media, conservative media and especially social media – we need to understand its huge significance here – gun freedom advocates countered liberals’ bogus “facts.” Media reports about “automatic” weapons were corrected, clownish statements about “high caliber magazines” and “large capacity round” were mocked. The struggle raged over millions of Facebook posts. The average citizen saw gun banners ask “When will America control access to weapons?” and then saw several experts among his or her friends post about the significant hurdles one needs to get over to get a gun. Truth bypassed the mainstream media and became a weapon for the side of fundamental rights.
The banners overplayed their hand, losing credibility with every distortion, evasion and smear. The cries of “Blood is on your hands!” failed to resonate – reasonable Americans just did not blame the actions of a single sociopath on millions of their fellow neighbors.
“The NRA’s absolutist position on gun issues is an impediment to the safety and security of the public,” Moran said in a statement. “This legislation is designed to highlight that schism, offering popular proposals even NRA members support to prevent more gun-related tragedies.”…
Luntz found that:
• 74 percent of NRA members support criminal background checks on all potential gun buyers — as opposed to current law, which requires background checks only on those who buy from licensed gun dealers;
• 79 percent of NRA members back requiring gun retailers to perform background checks on all employees;
• 71 percent of NRA members would bar those on the FBI’s terrorist watch-list from buying and owning guns;
• 64 percent of NRA members support requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms.