Nicholas Kristof | A Smarter Way to Reduce Gun Deaths – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist


Nathaniel Lash and 

This essay has been updated to reflect news developments.

“Once again the United States is seared by screams, shots, blood, sirens and politicians’ calls for thoughts and prayers. A gunman at Michigan State University killed three students late Monday and badly injured five others, leaving Americans asking once again: What can be done to break the political stalemate on gun policy so that we can save lives?

This essay originally was published in January after two mass shootings in California claimed 18 lives. But the issue remains tragically relevant, and it will continue to be until America adopts smarter policies for firearms. This toll from our guns — by our inaction, we make it our choice.

For decades, we’ve treated gun violence as a battle to be won rather than a problem to be solved — and this has gotten us worse than nowhere. In 2021 a record 48,000 Americans were killed by firearms, including suicides, homicides and accidents. So let’s try to bypass the culture wars and try a harm-reduction model familiar from public health efforts to reduce deaths from other dangerous products such as cars and cigarettes.

Harm reduction for guns would start by acknowledging the blunt reality that we’re not going to eliminate guns any more than we have eliminated vehicles or tobacco, not in a country that already has more guns than people. We are destined to live in a sea of guns. And just as some kids will always sneak cigarettes or people will inevitably drive drunk, some criminals will get firearms — but one lesson learned is that if we can’t eliminate a dangerous product, we can reduce the toll by regulating who gets access to it.”

Dave Cullen | Gun Safety: Yes, There’s Actually a Reason to Have Hope – The New York Times

Mr. Cullen is the author of “Columbine” and “Parkland.”

“You were right to feel hopeless. Gun safety was a lost cause. The National Rifle Association was invincible, and the Republican Party was never going to defy it. The failure to alter that reality after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School — 10 years ago on Wednesday — choked off our last faint wisp of hope.

If losing those 6- and 7-year-olds couldn’t drive that change, nothing would.

But we had it wrong. Gun safety wasn’t buried in Newtown, Conn. The modern safety movement was born that day.

Sandy Hook unleashed a slow-motion tsunami of determination that culminated this June in the first significant act of Congress on gun safety in nearly three decades. Fifteen Republican senators broke with the N.R.A. — unthinkable in the old political landscape.

Sandy Hook galvanized two women. The day after the shooting, a suburban mother, Shannon Watts, started Moms Demand Action, which morphed into Everytown for Gun Safety after merging with another group. Three weeks after the massacre, the former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords created the forerunner to her gun safety organization, Giffords.”

Why Does the U.S. Have So Many Mass Shootings? Research Is Clear: Guns. – The New York Times

“When the world looks at the United States, it sees a land of exceptions: a time-tested if noisy democracy, a crusader in foreign policy, an exporter of beloved music and film.

But there is one quirk that consistently puzzles America’s fans and critics alike. Why, they ask, does it experience so many mass shootings?

Perhaps, some speculate, it is because American society is unusually violent. Or its racial divisions have frayed the bonds of society. Or its citizens lack proper mental care under a health care system that draws frequent derision abroad.

These explanations share one thing in common: Though seemingly sensible, all have been debunked by research on shootings elsewhere in the world. Instead, an ever-growing body of research consistently reaches the same conclusion.

The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.”

Gail Collins and Bret Stephens | The Supreme Court’s Fighting Words – The New York Times

Gail Collins and 

Ms. Collins and Mr. Stephens are Opinion columnists. They converse every week.

“Bret Stephens: Hi, Gail. We’ve had two monumental Supreme Court decisions over the last week, on guns and abortion. Maybe it isn’t a fair question, but which of them scares, dismays, enrages or makes you want to bang your head against the wall more?

Gail Collins: I feel totally traumatized by both of them — even though, I admit, I was pretty much expecting everything that happened.

Bret: A line that’s making the rounds: It’s like knowing daylight saving time is coming and setting your clock back 50 years.”

Opinion | ‘It Was Really a Love Story.’ How an N.R.A. Ally Became a Gun Safety Advocate. – The New York Times

Mr. Dawson is a documentary director and cinematographer based in New York.

“How often do politicians change their minds on gun reform?

In the Opinion video above, we tell the improbable story of two men — a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher eager to harness the power of science to reduce gun deaths in the United States and an Arkansas congressman who was known as the National Rifle Association’s point man in Washington.”

Margaret Renkl | We Need to Stay Heartbroken About School Shootings – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — I wish I could report that shock was my first reaction to the news from Uvalde, but it was not shock. My first reaction to the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers was grief — terrible, garment-rending grief — followed by something dangerously close to resignation. Here we go again. And again and again. When you know something unbearable will happen, and then it happens, grief and resignation sit together in the same pew.

My own children are long past school age, but I am the wife of a teacher, the mother of a teacher, the sister of two teachers. Many of my dearest friends are teachers. The ever-present threat of this carnage is terrifying, and it is personal.

So it is for all of us, even if we aren’t the ones making lesson plans or packing school lunchboxes. We were all once vulnerable children, entirely dependent on adults to protect us. Keeping children safe is the most fundamental obligation we have as a culture.

But too many of our leaders no longer accept the responsibility of protecting innocents. The elected Republicans who bitterly fight all sensible gun laws also fight access to affordable health care, including treatment for mental illness. And they keep getting away with their inaction because they are so adept at preying on our most primitive fears, using them to divide us from one another.”

Gail and Bret | There Has to Be a Tipping Point on Guns, Right? – The New York Times

“. . . . Bret: Imagine a TV ad from a moderate Democrat like Ohio’s Tim Ryan or Virginia’s Abigail Spanberger that goes something like this:

“I believe in the Second Amendment. But not for this guy” — followed by a picture of the Tucson, Ariz, mass murderer Jared Lee Loughner, “or this guy” — a picture of Aurora, Colo., mass murderer James Holmes, “or this guy” — a picture of Newtown, Conn., mass murderer Adam Lanza.

It would continue: “I also believe in the right to own firearms responsibly for hunting and self-defense. But not for this” — a picture of the scene outside the Uvalde school, “or this” — a picture of the scene from the Buffalo grocery store, “or this” — scenes from the Parkland massacre.

And it could conclude: “Justice Robert Jackson once told us that the Bill of Rights cannot become a suicide pact. That includes the Second Amendment. We can protect your guns while keeping them out of the hands of crazy and dangerous people by using common-sense background checks, 21-years-of-age purchasing requirements, three-day waiting periods, and mental-health exams. It’s not about denying your Constitutional rights. It’s so your children come home from school alive.”

What do you think?

Gail: I’m sold. And I have a feeling we’ll be talking about this much, much more as this election year goes on.

Bret: Let’s hope it’s not after the next school shooting. Though, considering what we saw over the weekend in Philadelphia or Chattanooga, it may not be long.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Commet:
Yes, thank you, And— I recommend that we either show the pictures of the slaughtered children, or pictures or videos of actors pretending to be slaughtered. We film a reenactment of the killing. Or, We line up 21 patty play pal dies in cute outfits, and show them being cut to pieces by an 18 year old with an AR 15. We do the same with life sized posters of either the real victims, or actors pretending to be them. Show the pictures getting cut to pieces by an assault rifle, so you would need a dna sample to id your loved one. We use these for ads to remove the obstacles to gun safety in our halls of government.
David Lindsay Jr is the author of “the Tay Son Rebellion,” historical fiction about war in18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Frank Bruni | Gov. Greg Abbott Has a Lot of Nerve – The New York Times

Contributing Opinion Writer

“National Rifle Association convention in Houston last weekend? You know the one that began just three days after an 18-year-old with an AR-15-style rifle slaughtered 19 children and two teachers in an elementary school less than 300 miles away?

Abbott canceled his scheduled appearance — but did speak to the gun-worshiping gathering remotely, with prerecorded remarks. This is known as hedging your bets. And this, in the Republican Party of 2022, is what passes for tact.

Ever since the Uvalde massacre, I’ve been watching Abbott and listening to him and looking for some small hint — for any evanescent glimmer — of misgiving about all that he has done on his watch and with his signature to glorify guns, to fetishize guns, to make sure that Texans can obtain guns easily and carry them proudly and be free, free, free!

But I can’t see it. He’s a portrait of his party’s pigheadedness. A poster boy for its intransigence.”

” . . . . He forfeited it (the right to be livid) when, less than two months ago, he cut more than $200 million from the Texas commission that oversees mental health services in the state, which, according to the 2022 State of Mental Health in America report, ranks fourth in the nation in terms of the prevalence of mental illness, but last in access to mental health care.

Unbowed by that distinction, Abbott spoke after the massacre about the importance of dealing with mental illness. Other Republican leaders spoke about arming teachers and essentially turning schools into fortresses — which, I’m sure, would be wonderfully conducive to learning.”

Maureen Dowd | School Shootings and America’s Human Sacrifices – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“WASHINGTON — Once, when I thought of child sacrifice, I thought of ancient shibboleths.

In Aeschylus, Agamemnon lures his daughter Iphigenia to a spot she thinks is for her wedding, as the chorus urges: “Hoist her over the altar like a yearling, give it all your strength … gag her hard.” Agamemnon agonized but felt he had to sacrifice his daughter to appease a goddess and be granted favorable winds to sail against Troy. Small sacrifice to get your fleet moving.

In Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus kills his daughter, Lavinia, at the dinner table, after she has been raped and maimed by attackers. “Die, die, Lavinia!” he cries. “And thy shame with thee.” Small sacrifice to save your honor.

On “Game of Thrones,” Stannis Baratheon orders his sweet child Shireen burned at the stake, as she cries out for the father she adores, so black magic will melt the snows. Small sacrifice to get your starving army on the march.

Now, however, I think of child sacrifice as a modern phenomenon, a barbaric one that defines this country. We are sacrificing children, not only the ones who die, but also those who watch and those who fear the future.”

” . . . .   “Meaningful policy discussions over guns or voting or public health have left the room,” said my colleague Elizabeth Williamson, the author of the new book “Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth.” “Spewing conspiracy theories and bench-clearing nonsense around mass shootings, elections and coronavirus is becoming a tribal signifier for some on the right.”

The Republicans are doing everything they can to stop women from having control over their own bodies and doing nothing to stop the carnage against kids; they may as well change the party symbol from an elephant to an AR-15.

America is stuck in a loop on guns — and it’s a fatal one. This country always cherished its frontier image, Gary Cooper in “High Noon,” shooting it out with the bad guys. But now when the bad guys start shooting, lawmakers just shrug.

We’ve become a country of cowards, so terrified of the unholy power of gun worship that no sacrifice of young blood is too great to appease it.”   -30-

Pamela Paul | What to Do About Americans Who Love Their Guns – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Coming of age in the 1970s and ’80s, a kid took in a fair number of public service messages. Smokey Bear warned that only you could help prevent forest fires (if only this were entirely true). An actor dressed up as a Native American shed a single tear to get people to stop littering (or at least feel guilty when they did). The crash-test dummies made anyone bypassing a seatbelt look like a moron. Later campaigns against smoking, like the one featuring the singing cowboy, terrified many teenagers out of lighting their first cigarette.

Obviously, not everyone transformed into responsible citizens while imbibing these messages between doses of Sugar Pops and “Scooby-Doo.” If nothing else, “Schoolhouse Rock,” which similarly set forth principles around when to dump tea and reject kings, let us know that real change often required the passage of laws, and that’s not easy, as the oft-demoralized hero of “I’m Just a Bill” was known to wail. But simple messages stick, and when done well — particularly when lives are at stake — have proven highly effective.

Here’s how to start changing people’s minds about guns.

The disquieting fact remains that a staggering number of Americans clearly want — even love — to own guns: Not only does this country have more guns than people, but over the last 30 years, Americans have grown less supportive of stricter gun laws. Astonishingly, in 1959, 60 percent of Americans favored a ban on handguns except those used by police officers and other authorized persons; today that figure is 19 percent.

The tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, points once again to the senselessness of this love affair.”