What, if anything, should we do with our gun laws?
In the wake of a massacre in Sandy Hook, Conn., that’s just one of the difficult questions facing a nation.
It may be too early to tell, but this tragedy seems to have spurred a deeper impetus for change than previous multiple shootings have done. But the question is: Should changes to ensure safety include changes to laws regarding guns? And if so, what should those changes be?
In the past few days, I’ve spotted a few articles that pitch two straw men against each other. The battle, according to that narrative, is between doing nothing (it’s all fine) to banning all guns.
However, no actual person I’ve ever spoken with sees those as the alternatives. As another has said, we support all the amendments, including the Second. The real question is how to effectuate those enumerated rights in a way that does not infringe upon others.
Just as distracting is the position that the national conversation should just be about mental health. It’s certainly true that our country must establish better methods to address those who are a danger to themselves and others. But surely we can manage to wrestle with more than one concept at a time. Can it really be true that as a nation we must rank the challenges we face (mental health, easy access to large-magazine weapons, school security) and propose solutions to only one?
A hint that the conversation may go farther this time arises in a New York Times story yesterday. It explores the decision of the corporation Cerberus to divest itself of the nation’s largest gun company. That decision goes far beyond previous efforts to address a too-recurring tragedy.
The story is titled “In Unusual Move, Cerberus to Sell Gun Company,” and it opens:
“Sitting in their offices high above Park Avenue late on Monday, the private equity executives who own the country’s largest gun company received a phone call from one of their most influential investors.”
“An official at the California teachers’ pension fund, which has $750 million invested with the private equity firm, Cerberus Capital Management, was on the line, raising questions about the firm’s ownership of the Freedom Group, the gun maker that made the rifle used in the Connecticut school shootings. Hours later, at 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Cerberus said that it was putting the Freedom Group up for sale.”
“‘It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level,’ Cerberus said in a statement.”
So I ask for your thoughts: Is this truly a watershed event? And what should or can change in our laws to address it?
Here are a few other resources that cover the topic:
The New York Times has another story, this one on what some state leaders are proposing:
“The first concrete responses to the massacre in Newtown, Conn., began emerging on Tuesday, as state leaders proposed measures to curb gun violence, corporations distanced themselves from an event that has traumatized the nation and the White House pointed to gun control measures that President Obama would champion in the months ahead.”
“The reactions were considerably more broad-based than what had followed previous mass shootings, coming from Republicans as well as Democrats, from gun control advocates and those who have favored gun rights in the past, and even from the corporate and retail worlds. Proponents of stricter controls on firearms said they were cautiously optimistic that, perhaps this time, something concrete and lasting would be enacted.”
“Despite the sweeping language of a 2008 Supreme Court decision that struck down parts of the District of Columbia’s strict gun-control law, the decision appears perfectly consistent with many of the policy options being discussed after the shootings in Newtown, Conn.”
“Legal experts say the decision in the case, District of Columbia v. Heller, has been of mainly symbolic importance so far. There have been more than 500 challenges to gun laws and gun prosecutions since Heller was decided, and vanishingly few of them have succeeded.”
Finally, the Arizona Republic has published multiple opinions on the way forward.Follow @azatty