President Barack Obama marked the anniversary of the Newtown school shootings on Saturday by calling for tighter gun control and expanded mental healthcare, and by lighting 26 candles to commemorate the victims.
“We haven’t yet done enough to make our communities and our country safer,” the president said in his weekly address. “We have to do more to keep dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun so easily. We have to do more to heal troubled minds.”…
Frustrated on the legislative front, the administration began taking executive actions aimed at preventing gun violence. Steps have included making it easier for federal agencies to share information about people with a history of mental illness who should be prevented from buying a gun.
State legislatures have been more aggressive in enacting gun control legislation, but some of those measures have faced a backlash.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Friday that Democrats will continue to push for new restrictions on gun ownership, in a floor speech he delivered just one day before the one-year anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., shooting that left 26 dead.
“Last December I promised the families a meaningful conversation about how to change America’s culture of violence,” Reid said. “I want everyone within the sound of my voice to know that the conversation is not over.
“The American people will prevail on this issue.”
Reid did not lay out a specific timetable for action in the Senate, but said 85 percent of Americans agree on limiting gun availability to people with criminal backgrounds or with a mental illness.
Gun-control activists have largely given up on Congress, which did not pass background-check legislation after the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., last December that killed 20 children and six adults. The groups are shifting their resources to a handful of states such as Colorado, where they have hired political operatives to try to build permanent gun-control movements…
Groups run by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I), former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and other gun-control advocates intend to spend more than $25 million in 2014, most of it in the states, said officials with knowledge of the plans, which have not been previously reported. Their strategy is to pressure state legislatures and pursue ballot initiatives for stricter gun laws, as well as to defend or attack politicians in next fall’s campaigns based on their gun votes, the officials said…
In addition to Colorado, the Center for American Progress is convening strategy summits with representatives of the major gun-control groups in Georgia, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington state and Wisconsin. The sessions include tutorials for gun violence victims and other local activists on how to tell emotional stories to lawmakers and in the news media.
According to a poll by CNN and ORC International, opposition to gun control has risen 23 percent since January. As a result, a majority of Americans no longer support gun control.
Released on December 4th, the poll shows that 50 percent of Americans oppose more gun control. This is up from 27 percent in January.
49 percent Americans still support gun control to one degree or another, but this number down from a high of 55 percent in January as well.
Support for stricter gun-control measures has dropped to its lowest level since last year’s tragic shootings in Newtown, Conn., according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll…
The NBC/WSJ poll also shows a predictable partisan split when it comes to gun control. Seventy-six percent of Democrats say they back stricter gun laws, versus just 28 percent of Republicans who do.
Additionally, the survey finds that the National Rifle Association is more popular than outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is one of the nation’s most prominent (and deep-pocketed) gun-control advocates.
Gun control coverage was profuse in the days and weeks after the shooting. With Democratic political leaders declaring that “we can’t tolerate this anymore” and that “we are not doing enough to protect our citizens,” the debate over guns took center stage. This is a frequent pattern after mass shootings, as the media’s intense interest in such a dramatic event leads to a spike in coverage.
But, as typically happens, the media’s attention eventually waned after the “issue attention cycle.” After several weeks of a deluge of coverage — fueled in part by the president’s issuing of 23 gun-related executive actions — journalists turned to newer stories, including the fiscal cliff and the ongoing budget debates. Gun control returned to the headlines in April, when a Senate bill that would have expanded background checks generated a flurry of coverage. But the story essentially died once the legislation did…
None of this means that gun-control advocates will have an easier time at the state level. Indeed, many recent efforts have been thwarted, in part because of vigorous lobbying campaigns by gun rights groups. But it may be that media attention will be easier to sustain in states where the prospects for policy action are brighter than in Washington.
Spitzer thinks it’s unlikely there will be more action in the states in 2014. “I think we’ve probably seen a crest tide of gun measures in 2013,” he says. “There are likely to be far fewer measures in 2014, partly because in states like New York and Colorado and Connecticut, they’ve done what they wanted to do.
“Secondly, I think both Republicans and Democrats, by and large, would rather the gun issue would go away, especially in 2014,” he says. “For the Democrats, there’s the major hassle factor as was illustrated by the two races in Colorado. For the Republicans, they don’t want to be tarred as extremist gun nuts. Neither party really wants to latch on to this issue.”
Why, even after Newtown, are gun rights on the ascendant? The starting place is violent crime rates. The push for national gun control began in earnest in the late 1960s, an era of sharply rising murder and assault rates, especially in large cities. Violence increased markedly for three decades, through 1993, providing gun skeptics with a plausible basis to argue that limiting access to firearms might help address the scourge. In December 1993, 70 percent of Americans supported stricter gun control, according to pollsters at CNN (TWX). Then, beginning in 1994, for reasons that still perplex criminologists, violent crime began to decrease, falling roughly 50 percent over the past two decades. In CNN’s most recent poll, published on Dec. 4, 49 percent of respondents supported stricter gun control, down six percentage points since January…
Apart from politics, dispassionate observers must question the simplistic liberal slogan that more guns equals more crime. The U.S. has seen a two-decade period during which private gun ownership has continued to soar (some 300 million firearms are now in civilian hands), while crime has diminished.
Newtown, and Aurora before it, were not ordinary instances of violent crime. Mass shootings by deranged young men present a special case, one painfully disconnected from the gun control proposals these atrocities inspire. Mass murderers prepare meticulously and usually acquire their weapons legally. Comprehensive background checks make sense for whatever good they might do at the margin, but they wouldn’t have stopped Newtown gunman Adam Lanza, who armed himself from his mother’s legal, if negligently maintained, home arsenal.
Earlier this month Slate launched an effort to categorize the gun deaths in our system. That effort verified the source of the discrepancy: suicides. We’ve missed nearly all gun-related suicides, because our information is based on media reports, and the media typically avoid reporting on suicides.
Our interactive reflects the picture the media paints of gun violence in America: One in which guns mostly kill homicide victims, with the occasional accidental death thrown in. But that’s immensely different than the reality of gun violence. In reality, two out of three gun deaths are suicides, not the one out of 10 our interactive suggests…
The gun control debate in America often centers on homicide. But if the phrase “gun violence in America” brings to your mind pictures of mall shootings and school massacres and gang warfare, please remember the uncounted, unreported victims of guns in this country.
To wish to prevent another Sandy Hook is an admirable and human instinct. But to chase placebos? That is infinitely less commendable. Typically, when government inaction is the complaint, it is beneficial to eschew emotion in favor of a couple of hard questions. The first is “What is it that you want the state to do?”; the second, “How would the state’s doing this affect the problem?” In this case, the “what” was the Toomey-Manchin bill, which would have forced all the states to run background checks on all private transfers and sales of firearms. And the answer to “What would it have done?”: Nothing.
As a few of the more honest advocates of gun control acknowledged at the time, it is just about possible to argue with a straight face that universal background checks could help to prevent or diminish the general rate of gun crime. But it is certainly not possible to claim that they would prevent or even diminish the number of mass shootings. In fact, to argue that such a requirement would have done anything whatsoever to stop recent massacres isn’t just wrong — it’s deeply dishonest. Those who have been chastising Congress for not reacting to massacres by passing legislation that has nothing to do with massacres should be ashamed of themselves…
In the Huffington Post on Wednesday, Sam Stein and Sam Wilkes complained rather predictably that “progress on gun control seemed inevitable after Sandy Hook, but apparently that was wrong.” Given their preferences, I’d ask them the same thing as I would the president: What sort of “progress” is passing a law that has nothing to do with the problem you’re trying to solve? The answer is none at all. In truth, the Left’s knee-jerk reaction to gun violence represents quite the opposite of forward thinking, based as it is on fear, superstition, and good old-fashioned ignorance. However nicely they package their schemes, an informed, reasonable, and free people should adamantly resist the instincts of men who sound the old cry, “Do something, anything!” — even, and perhaps especially, if the event that led them there was unspeakably, unutterably, unthinkably grim.