Gail Collins | Sick of Massacres? Get Rid of the Guns. – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“How long does it take to get over a mass shooting?

Well, for the families and friends of victims of the Buffalo supermarket disaster, where 10 people were killed by a gunman with a semiautomatic rifle, obviously forever. But when it comes to the rest of the country, one man who ought to know says the public has already started to move on.

“That’s the pattern,” said Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. “Despite gun violence rates going through the roof, the country only pays attention when there’s a mass shooting, and then the country only pays attention for 24 to 48 hours.”

Murphy was formerly the congressman from the district where 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 26 people, including 20 children, with a semiautomatic rifle at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. Murphy later moved on to the Senate, where in 2016 he staged an old-school filibuster, speaking for over 14 hours to protest the fact that his colleagues weren’t planning to do anything after the Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 in Florida.

The gunman at the Pulse nightclub used a semiautomatic rifle. See a pattern here, anybody? And what do you think we should do about it?”

Bret Stephens | Repeal the Second Amendment – The New York Times

“I have never understood the conservative fetish for the Second Amendment.

From a law-and-order standpoint, more guns means more murder. “States with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides,” noted one exhaustive 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.

From a personal-safety standpoint, more guns means less safety. The F.B.I. counted a total of 268 “justifiable homicides” by private citizens involving firearms in 2015; that is, felons killed in the course of committing a felony. Yet that same year, there were 489 “unintentional firearms deaths” in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Between 77 and 141 of those killed were children.

From a national-security standpoint, the Amendment’s suggestion that a “well-regulated militia” is “necessary to the security of a free State,” is quaint. The Minutemen that will deter Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are based in missile silos in Minot, N.D., not farmhouses in Lexington, Mass.”

Maureen Dowd | New York Police Officers Remember Jason Rivera – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

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“We don’t hear much about good cops these days.

Their stories get lost amid the scalding episodes with trigger-happy, racist and sadistic cops.

The good ones get tarred with the same brush, even though the last person who wants to get in a squad car with a bad cop is a good cop.

It takes a catastrophe, like 9/11, or an attempted coup like Jan. 6, or a heartbreaking funeral with a sea of blue, like Friday’s ceremony at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the murdered 22-year-old New York City police officer Jason Rivera, to remind us that we should be proud of good cops even as we root out bad ones.

“There shouldn’t have to be a funeral to acknowledge how valiant they can be in the face of danger,” Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum told me.”

Gail Collins | Why Are We Still Going Great Guns? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Let’s take a look at how well Joe Biden is doing with his gun safety agenda.

We call this gun safety, people, because “gun control” makes a lot of politicians nervous. And really, what the heck? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that eliminating the sale of semiautomatic rifles would make the country more … gun safe.

Banning assault weapons was on Biden’s to-do list, along with universal background checks and a stronger, more forward-looking Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives under the leadership of David Chipman.

Well, here we are, less than a year into the administration, and Chipman’s nomination is kaput. Biden hasn’t yet come up with a new name. This is not all that unusual, since congressional gun politics has limited the A.T.F. to only one actual confirmed chief in the last 15 years.”

Gail Collins | Who Sold That Gun? Nobody’s Telling. – The New York Times

“. . .  It’s very possible he acquired the gun in a street deal, or borrowed it from a friend. But we’re not going to learn anything about who originally purchased it, or where. That’s because — bet you didn’t know this, people — it’s illegal for the authorities who track this stuff to let the public know.

Yes! This is thanks to the Tiahrt amendment, first passed in 2003, which prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from sharing information with … almost anybody. It also limits the F.B.I.’s ability to hang onto gun background check data, requiring its quick destruction. All in all, the idea is to give gun dealers approximately as much right to privacy as cloistered nuns.

Todd Tiahrt, a former congressman from Kansas, has been out of office since his political career crashed in 2010 because of an unfortunate attempt to move up to the Senate. But his amendment lives on and on and on. As a result, it’s pretty much impossible for the public to know if there are one or two particular gun dealers in their town who’ve sold a whopping number of weapons that were later used in crimes.

“The A.T.F. has a tremendous amount of data,” said Josh Scharff, legal counsel for Brady, the gun-safety advocacy organization. Five percent of gun dealers, Scharff said, are responsible for selling 90 percent of the guns used in crimes.   . . .   “

Gail Collins | Our Firearms Problems Just Keep Piling Up – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…George Frey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

” “Lock them up. There are things that you can do,” a Houston assistant police chief said last week after a 3-year-old boy fatally shot his 8-month-old baby brother in the family home.

The assistant chief was talking about guns, not the 3-year-old. Obviously. Although in some parts of the country, the idea of putting kids in prison seems to elicit more enthusiasm than the idea of locking away the weapons.

This kind of disaster happens way, way, way too much. Last year at least 371 children stumbled across a loaded gun and fired, causing 143 deaths and 243 injuries. In one case, a 3-year-old shot himself to death with a pistol that had fallen out of the pocket of a member of his family — apparently while the adults were playing cards.

None of this has led to any significant change in the national attitude toward deadly weapons. Many Americans like to arm themselves to the teeth as protection from crime — and bleep over the danger that comes with all that hardware, especially in the hands of people who aren’t really equipped to use it.  . . . . . “

Charles M. Blow | Rage Is the Only Language I Have Left – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Josh Galemore/Arizona Daily Star, via Associated Press

“One of the first times I wrote about the police killing of an unarmed Black man was when Michael Brown was gunned down in the summer of 2014 in Ferguson, Mo. Brown was a Black teenager accused of an infraction in a convenience store just before his life was taken. Last summer, six years on, I wrote about George Floyd, a large Black man accused of an infraction in a convenience store, this time in Minneapolis.

Both men were killed in the street in broad daylight. Brown was shot. An officer knelt on Floyd’s neck. In both cases there were multiple community witnesses to the killings. In both cases there was a massive outcry. In both cases the men were accused of contributing to, or causing, their own deaths, in part because they had illegal drugs in their systems.

Between those two killings there has been a depressing number of others. In January of 2015, The Washington Post began maintaining a database of all known fatal shootings by the police in America. Every year, the police shot and killed roughly 1,000 people. But, as The Post points out, Black Americans are killed at a much higher rate than white Americans, and the data revealed that unarmed Black people account for about 40 percent of the unarmed Americans killed by the police, despite making up only about 13 percent of the American population.

Something is horrifyingly wrong. And yet, the killings keep happening. Brown and Floyd are not even the bookends. There were many before them, and there will be many after.   . . . “

Nicholas Kristof | How to Reduce Shootings – (regulate gun like cars) -The New York Times

“America has been shaken by new mass shootings, in Georgia and Colorado, with at least 18 people killed. This essay originally ran in 2017, after a shooter killed 26 people in a Texas church, but the issue is still tragically relevant — and will remain so until America tightens its gun safety policies.

America has more guns than any other country

The first step is to understand the scale of the challenge America faces: The U.S. has more than 300 million guns — roughly one for every citizen — and stands out as well for its gun death rates. At the other extreme, Japan has less than one gun per 100 people, and typically fewer than 10 gun deaths a year in the entire country.”

Opinion | When the Filibuster Turns Deadly – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

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Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

“You may have heard that the House just passed a couple of very, very moderate gun safety bills. They now go to the Senate, where Republicans are hoping to let them molder forever in a closet somewhere.

But hey, maybe not. The mood in Washington is different these days. Spring is in the air! A $1.9 trillion relief program is on the books! If the Senate Democrats overcome a filibuster to tighten our gun laws — even the tiniest bit — we can tell ourselves that nothing is impossible.

The gun bills are part of the Democrats’ post-coronavirus agenda, and the debate began the way most such arguments begin, with opponents claiming that making it more difficult to purchase deadly weapons will lead to more crime. Because, see, you need a weapon in your house to scare off murderous intruders.” . . .

Smith & Wesson Fights a Case in New Jersey. Gun Control Could Be the Winner. – The New York Times

“She places her gun in a red leather handbag and gets into her car. The gun, in her bag, sits in the front seat of the vehicle as she drives to work. She then brings the gun, still in the bag, to a meeting with colleagues at the office. She then takes the gun, in her bag, to lunch, where she sits at an outdoor cafe. After that, she goes to the gym — and the gun comes with her. Finally, she goes to a shooting range, where she takes the gun out and fires it at a target. “Nice pistol,” says the man next to her.

That’s the plot of a television commercial for Smith & Wesson.

However, almost everything in the ad would be illegal in at least 35 states if the woman did not have a concealed carry permit, which the ad ignores.

A largely overlooked lawsuit is playing out in New Jersey about the way Smith & Wesson advertises its wares, but the truth is the case is about much more than advertising. The outcome could have profound implications for the gun industry.

In business and policy circles, and within the gun industry itself, the case is seen as the country’s most consequential legal battle over the future of gun control.”