Saturday, December 15, 2012

After Newtown, a New Approach

I'm in agreement with a Facebook friend who wrote, "Everyone predictably talks about their hearts going out to the people in Connecticut. My heart is spent."

The best of what I've seen related to the Newtown shooting and what we should do about it:

  • Pete Hautman explaining why he got rid of his handgun.
  • Constitutional scholar Akhil Amar's take on the Second Amendment, as seen in two paintings.
  • Cartoonist Tom Toles gets it right:

  • Ezra Klein's list of facts about mass shootings, especially the charts about the decline in these types of shootings (believe it or not) and the decrease in the number of people who own guns in the U.S. Yes, a decrease, which means the number of guns per gun-owner has gone up. And the contradictory graphs that show fewer people favor stricter gun laws, when described generically, while large majorities support specific restrictions, such as background checks, banning high-capacity clips, banning semi-automatics assault rifles, and requiring gun registration. No mention was made of the loopholes that exist for sales at gun shows and internet sales.
To anyone who thinks we'd all be safer if more of us were armed, remember the Rochester, Minn., teenager who was just shot by her grandfather because he thought she was an intruder, or the two young boys shot by accident by their brothers in the past few months here in the Twin Cities, let alone Jordan Davis or Trayvon Martin. People with a gun in their hand think other people have guns in their hands, and gun owners all too often leave their weapons where children can get at them.

But I don't know how I can say prohibition works, if I believe it doesn't work for drugs. Regulating guns more heavily, though -- including getting rid of semi-autos and large clips, and increasing requirements for licensing -- I can see those as possibilities.

And a media agreement to ban coverage wouldn't hurt, either. There's definitely an element of contagion in all this.


Unknown said...

Would you like to explain to your readers how in the world a ban on "semi-autos" as you say would have somehow prevented new town, or ANY of the one-off examples you sited in your post?

Daughter Number Three said...

As pointed out by Pete Hautmann, I had the common misunderstanding that semi-automatic and assault weapon were interchangeable. I've corrected that.

This doesn't address your entire point, of course, Unknown. As Michael Moore noted today, most of the gun deaths in the U.S. don't come from assault rifles or large magazines. From Jonathan Chait in New York magazine: "Rifles of all kinds accounted for just 323 of the 12,664 murders victims last year."

There are larger problems, of fear leading to increased gun ownership and seeing violence as a solution, which underlie the many deaths in our country, compared to countries like Canada that have a substantial number of weapons but many fewer deaths.