The day i returned to the US from 3 month abroad was the day the National Rifle Association announced their plan to avert gun violence in schools, which is to place armed guards in every school in the US. i cant say it makes me feel nice to be back.
There are many media responses which are furious. The Wall Street Journals coverage strived to be balanced, but in the video section only showed NRA and former NRA spokespeople talking. The WSJ story did site the after action report on the Columbine killings in which identified that an armed school resource officer exchanged gunfire with one of the teenage gunmen. That the exchange forced the two gunmen into the school library, where they then killed 10 students.
But the best advice from the MSM is actually to ignore the NRA completely for now. The Washington Post points out that this is a familiar poly of the NRA, distraction.
This is standard obfuscation from the NRA, which always tries to distract from the discussion about the need for reform by characterizing the push for it as driven by elite cultural disdain for gun culture and ordinary gun owners. And focusing only on schools is about diverting the conversation away from the broader epidemic of gun violence.
My original post on this topic was quite pessimistic, in part because the NRA has been historically extremely effective in stopping gun control legislation and punishing lawmakers who attempt it. [And i want to say again that especially for very young kids, school is by far the safest place for them to be from gun violence. So while Newtown was a horrible event, it is extremely rare as compared to other handgun deaths of kids.] I am starting to think there will be a plan to reduce the availability of semi-automatic weapons.
Part of the reason is that the mainstream political forces seem to be actually aligning to do something. While i dont think much of Joe Biden, who Obama has appointed to head his task force. Biden was one of the prime authors of the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban was very heavily compromised by Republicans and left the vast majority of semi-automatic weapons on the market. And to get it passed, it had to have a 10 year sunset clause, which passed in 2004 without renewable, because House Republicans did not want Bush II to have to vote on it.
But there are other big players weighing in. i am impressed with the efficacy of NY City mayor Michael Bloomberg (tho not with many of his policies, including the highly racist stop and frisk). Bloomberg has put a bunch of his own money into Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Which has a fairly elegant “Demand A Plan” platform. Specifically they want:
- Require a criminal background check for every gun sold in America
- Ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
- Make gun trafficking a federal crime, including real penalties for “straw purchasers”
The Republicans hold the key to the possibility of gun control legislation passing. With respect to the top two items on the above plan a recent CNN poll shows Republicans favoring these steps. 97% of republicans believe there should be background checks before gun purchases. 60% favor banning assault weapon sale and ownership.
The website claims 750 mayors and 3/4 of a million citizens have sign up. And they have dragged in a bunch of name brand entertainers to help them.
But the only way these laws will change is if we ignore the NRA.
Some compelling arguments collected by my friend Mirabai
In 62 mass shootings going back 30 years, not a single case was the killer stopped by a civilian using a gun.
• In 2005, as a rampage unfolded inside a shopping mall in Tacoma, Washington, a civilian named Brendan McKown confronted the assailant with a licensed handgun he was carrying. The assailant pumped several bullets into McKown and wounded six people before eventually surrendering to police after a hostage standoff.
• In Tyler, Texas, 2005, a civilian named Mark Wilson fired his licensed handgun at a man on a rampage at the county courthouse. Wilson—who was a firearms instructor—was shot dead by the body-armored assailant, who wielded an AK-47.
• Eric Harris traded gunfire with two armed security personnel before the rampage at Columbine happened.
• A teacher with a conceal carry permit refused to fire at Cho in Blacksburg, for fear of hitting students.
• An armed citizen pull his weapon on the Portland mall shooter, but could not secure a shot “without hitting innocent bystanders.”
• Researchers at Johns Hopkins University recently conducted a review of all the existing academic literature on right-to-carry and found: “The most consistent finding across studies is that RTC laws are associated with an increase in aggravated assaults.
• In 2009, ABC’s “20/20” conducted a scientific experiment. They recruited a dozen or so students, gave them gun training that was more comprehensive than what most states require for concealed carry permits, and then entrusted them with a gun and told them they would have to fend off a shooter later that day. Separating them, they placed each one in a real classroom with other “students” (actually study compatriots). When a gunman burst in and started shooting, each student tried to respond by drawing his or her gun. Every single student failed, including several who had had years of practice shooting guns, and they all got shot (fortunately, it was just paintball bullets in real handguns).