By Sahil Chinoy, Nicholas Kristof and Jessia Ma
NOV. 8, 2018
“Another needless tragedy in America: This time a gunman opened fire in a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., killing at least 12 people and injuring many more.
These horrors happen far more often in America than in other advanced countries partly because of the outsize political influence of the National Rifle Association. N.R.A. candidates suffered some important defeats in Tuesday’s midterm elections, but in a broad swath of red state America it remains potent, controlling politicians who know that an N.R.A. endorsement can make or break an election.
It is not the richest interest group. The National Association of Realtors has spent twice as much in the 2018 federal election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
It is not the largest interest group. It claims about six million members (probably an exaggeration); AARP has more than six times that number.”
“The massacre of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, allegedly by a man with 21 guns registered to his name, was terrifyingly predictable. Every day in America, about 104 people die from guns, while in Japan it takes about a decade for that many to die from gun violence.
Equally predictable was the response. President Trump and members of Congress denounced the violence but show no signs of actually doing anything to stop it: So Americans will continue to die from guns at a rate of one every 15 minutes.
Why do we Americans kill each other, and ourselves, with guns at such rates? One answer as it relates to the Pittsburgh attack is a toxic brew of hate and bigotry, but the ubiquity of guns leverages hatred into murder. And let’s be blunt: One reason for our country’s paralysis on meaningful action on guns is the National Rifle Association. If we want to learn the lessons of this latest rampage, and try to prevent another one, then let’s understand that saving lives is not just about universal background checks and red flag laws, but also about defanging the N.R.A.”
“And yet change has come, albeit slowly. And it has come not from the top, but from grass-roots campaigns often driven by women — the infuriated-mom equivalent of #MeToo that has joined with older organizations like The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Guns. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was started by Shannon Watts in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, and now as a part of Everytown for Gun Safety has over four million members. Then there are smaller groups like Survivors Empowered, started by Sandy and Lonnie Phillips after their daughter was killed in the mass shooting in 2012 in Aurora, Colo.
These people have no fear of the N.R.A. — despite its steady targeting of people, especially women, who speak out against them. These are the volunteers who have gone door to door with petitions and who speak before state legislatures. And it works: They have brought significant change to eight states, forcing stronger background checks, limiting gun access to perpetrators of domestic violence, and creating “red flag” laws to allow the local police and families to take guns away from relatives who are at risk to themselves or others — laws that might have prevented at least some of the mass shootings in the last decades.”
David Linday: Yes, thank you Mimi Swartz. Here are the two top comments, which I recommended, along with many others.
“Tragically, predictably, infuriatingly, we’re again mourning a shooting — this time at YouTube’s headquarters — even as the drive for gun safety legislation has stalled in Washington. Polls show that nine out of 10 Americans favor basic steps like universal background checks before gun purchases, but the exceptions are the president and a majority in Congress.
Usually pundits toss out their own best arguments while ignoring the other side’s, but today I’m going to try something new and engage directly with the arguments made by gun advocates:You liberals are in a panic over guns, but look at the numbers. Any one gun is less likely to kill a person than any one vehicle. But we’re not traumatized by cars, and we don’t try to ban them.It’s true that any particular car is more likely to be involved in a fatality than any particular gun. But cars are actually a perfect example of the public health approach that we should apply to guns. We don’t ban cars, but we do work hard to take a dangerous product and regulate it to limit the damage.
We do that through seatbelts and airbags, through speed limits and highway barriers, through driver’s licenses and insurance requirements, through crackdowns on drunken driving and texting while driving. I once calculated that since 1921, we had reduced the auto fatality rate per 100 million miles driven by 95 percent.”
“Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday. These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society.
That support is a clear sign to lawmakers to enact legislation prohibiting civilian ownership of semiautomatic weapons, increasing the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 years old, and establishing more comprehensive background checks on all purchasers of firearms. But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.
Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides that “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.”
“Here is something I didn’t think about: I did not think about arming myself to protect my students. President Trump on Thursday specified that he wants only certain teachers — “highly adept people, people that understand weaponry” — to be armed. I will immodestly state that among professors in the United States, I am almost certainly one of the best shooters. But I would never bring a weapon into a classroom. The presence of a firearm is always an invitation to violence. Weapons have no place in a learning environment.
Last month, the State Legislature in West Virginia, where my university is located, introduced the Campus Self-Defense Act. This would prohibit colleges and universities from designating their campuses as gun-free zones. If this act becomes law, I will resign my professorship. I will not work in an environment where professors and students pack heat.When I was a young Marine, I had to learn how to use many weapons. It was part of my mission to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” My mission these days is to write books and teach literature and creative writing. It’s a noble calling, too. But no one should be asked to put his life on the line for it.”
“There are things that we could do right now that could lessen the lethality of the guns currently available and we could ban some guns — neither of which is likely to happen.
I’m convinced that we must think big and systemically. We must treat gun violence in this country as a public health crisis, because it is
First, we must repeal the N.R.A.-backed Dickey Amendment, named for the man who sponsored it, former Representative Jay Dickey, an Arkansas Republican. It reads: “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” “
“On Wednesday, after listening to the heart-rending stories of those who lost children and friends in the Parkland school shooting — while holding a cue card with empathetic-sounding phrases — Donald Trump proposed his answer: arming schoolteachers.
It says something about the state of our national discourse that this wasn’t even among the vilest, stupidest reactions to the atrocity. No, those honors go to the assertions by many conservative figures that bereaved students were being manipulated by sinister forces, or even that they were paid actors.Still, Trump’s horrible idea, taken straight from the N.R.A. playbook, was deeply revealing — and the revelation goes beyond issues of gun control. What’s going on in America right now isn’t just a culture war. It is, on the part of much of today’s right, a war on the very concept of community, of a society that uses the institution we call government to offer certain basic protections to all its members.
Before I get there, let me remind you of the obvious: We know very well how to limit gun violence, and arming civilians isn’t part of the answer.No other advanced nation experiences frequent massacres the way we do. Why? Because they impose background checks for prospective gun owners, limit the prevalence of guns in general and ban assault weapons that allow a killer to shoot dozens of people before he (it’s always a he) can be taken down. And yes, these regulations work.”
“What makes teenagers amazing — or infuriating, if you’re in an argument with one — is they don’t know what they’re not supposed to be able to do.
They haven’t learned that being smart means being cynical about what you can accomplish. They haven’t been hard-wired with platitudes and euphemisms. They haven’t internalized a list of questions that are too naïve or impolite to ask.
At CNN’s town hall on gun violence Wednesday, “Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action,” this resulted in something you rarely see on TV: accountability. A week after 17 people died in a mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a group of angry, grieving constituents was questioning public officials as if they worked for the public.”
“WASHINGTON — For years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been overlooked in Washington. Overshadowed by more politically powerful law enforcement agencies like the F.B.I., the A.T.F. garnered headlines mostly for notorious episodes, including the deadly 1993 siege in Waco, Tex., and the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal more than a decade later.
Now, the A.T.F. is on the verge of a crisis. The agency, which has not grown significantly since its founding in 1973, is about to confront a staffing shortage and is set to lose its tobacco and alcohol enforcement authorities. President Trump has yet to nominate a director to oversee the agency, which has been without permanent leadership for eight of the past 12 years.
Amid the dearth of leadership and resources, the White House is pushing the A.T.F. to the forefront of its fight against violent crime. In response to the mass shooting at a Florida high school last week, Mr. Trump, who promised to fight violent criminal gangs and illegal guns — two of the A.T.F.’s key missions — announced that he would be relying on the bureau to regulate so-called bump stock accessories.But it is all but politically impossible for Mr. Trump, who counts the powerful gun lobby among his most ardent supporters, to strengthen the A.T.F. The National Rifle Association has long sought to hobble the agency in an effort to curb its ability to regulate guns, which the gun lobby has traditionally opposed.
“Most people in law enforcement know why A.T.F. can’t get a director,” said Michael Bouchard, a former agent and the president of the A.T.F. Association, an independent group that supports current and former bureau officials. “It’s not because of the people. It’s because of the politics.””