A ‘rad­i­cal’ idea takes hold: Get­ting con­trol of our guns

Austin American-Statesman - - BALANCED VIEWS - FROM THE LEFT Mon­day Tues­day Wed­nes­day Thurs­day Long­time Texas news­pa­per­man John Young lives in Colorado. jy­oung­col­umn@ gmail.com. Fri­day Satur­day Sun­day


at­ten­tive to any­thing that would pre­vent such hor­rors — New­town, Aurora, Tuc­son — we are en­tranced by the grip­ping ac­counts and vig­ils and me­mo­rial ser­vices af­ter­ward.

We re­flect on com­pelling ex­am­ples of courage and calm like the teacher who herded her stu­dents into the closet and oc­cu­pied them with crayons and pa­per as shots rang out.

If we wanted fewer hor­rors, rather than more grip­ping read­ing and broad­cast ma­te­rial, we could find other sto­ries worth our time.

Like the one about who­ever man­u­fac­tured the bul­lets sprayed through­out Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary: Tell us about the process he used to con­struct am­mu­ni­tion de­signed to break up in­side the body of a first­grader.

It’s a spe­cial kind of bul­let, made for killing killers but avail­able to those who would kill in­no­cents. And that, ap­par­ently, is just fine by Amer­ica.

Hun­dreds of rounds were on and be­side the body of the New­town killer. Tell us about the means by which one would ac­quire that am­mu­ni­tion. Tell us about the multi-round mag­a­zines used in New­town and Aurora and Tuc­son. Ex­plain their sport­ing and self-de­fense pur­poses.

Did you no­tice once again the calls not to politi­cize Amer­ica’s lat­est gun mas­sacre? Let the fam­i­lies grieve, goes the line. Prayers are in or­der, not any ac­tual dis­cus­sion of pub­lic pol­icy that might save lives.

And when we run out of prayers and ac­counts of hero­ism and tragedy, we can get on with do­ing noth­ing.

I’m think­ing, not so this time. This time we are go­ing to have an ac­tual pol­icy dis­cus­sion and not be de­terred by the mere thought of stir­ring gun cultists into ac­tion.

A chill­ing irony: The day be­fore the New­town mur­ders, Colorado Gov. John Hick­en­looper, who had de­ferred on any dis­cus­sion of new gun laws af­ter the Aurora the­ater mas­sacre, said that suf­fi­cient time had passed since that event to open up dis­cus­sion about gun vi­o­lence and what the state can do about it. This was top-of-Page 1 news in the Den­ver Post.

A Repub­li­can law­maker was aghast. “The gov­er­nor (a Demo­crat) has built this per­cep­tion as a mod­er­ate,” he told the Post. “I think this changes the per­cep­tion.”

So im­mod­er­ate, so rad­i­cal — to even speak about our gun cul­ture and the peo­ple it kills.

Scot Le­high

Paul Krug­man

Dana Milbank

Mau­reen Dowd

Add them up. The Brady Cen­ter to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence has. Since the Jan­uary 2011 shoot­ings in Tuc­son, Ariz., Amer­ica has en­dured 72 mass shoot­ings.

Add them up. Amer­ica loses 32 lives a day to gun­fire. Over a year, that’s 11,680, or more than three 9 /11 at­tacks. At this very moment our government is do­ing some­thing at count­less points of con­tact to pre­vent an­other one of those.

Ac­cord­ing to the Brady Cen­ter, Amer­ica’s homi­cide rate is 6.9 times higher than 22 other high-in­come, high-pop­u­la­tion coun­tries com­bined.

Try to pick apart the cir­cum­stances to demon­strate that tougher gun laws would have no bear­ing on New­town’s suf­fer­ing. That’s not the point, but that’s the gun in­dus­try’s ruse.

As Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said in his re­marks from New­town, it is be­yond the pale that the na­tion would ac­cept this blood­shed and just move on with daily com­merce, in­clud­ing the un­fet­tered sale of mil­i­tary-style weapons.

One key pol­icy mat­ter raised af­ter the Tuc­son shoot­ings will get new life: lim­its on high-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zines. Thirty-round clips fed the AR-15 that killed so many at Sandy Hook.

No civil­ian needs that fire­power. Sadly, our dis­cus­sion has been driven, or blunted, by those who amaz­ingly say they do. It’s a lit­tle bit like the de­bate over lifesaving stem-cell re­search, stopped by a mi­cro-mi­nor­ity of Amer­i­cans.

It’s rad­i­cal to talk about stricter gun laws? It’s rad­i­cal to look anew at mil­i­tary-style weapons, their ammo and their ca­pac­ity? Get real, Amer­ica. What’s rad­i­cal is to al­low them to go un­con­trolled. What’s rad­i­cal is that un­til now this was a pol­icy vac­uum of which pol­i­cy­mak­ers dared not speak.

Gail Collins

John Young

Leonard Pitts


The cas­ket car­ry­ing the body of Jes­sica Rekos, 6, waits to be car­ried into St. Rose of Lima Church in New­town, Conn., on Tues­day.

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