Monday, December 17, 2012

Kristof's Proposal for Gun Control

Given how much fun I had the last time I tackled a highly politicized, hot-button, not-100%-education-related issue (Republican voter suppression laws), why not try another: gun control? ;-) Many of these massacres take place in schools (think Columbine), so here’s Nick Kristof (who grew up on a farm and whose father gave him a gun when he was 12) with some common sense on what should be done:

The tragedy isn’t one school shooting, it’s the unceasing toll across our country. More Americans die in gun homicides and suicides in six months than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

So what can we do? A starting point would be to limit gun purchases to one a month, to curb gun traffickers. Likewise, we should restrict the sale of high-capacity magazines so that a shooter can’t kill as many people without reloading.

We should impose a universal background check for gun buyers, even with private sales. Let’s make serial numbers more difficult to erase, and back California in its effort to require that new handguns imprint a microstamp on each shell so that it can be traced back to a particular gun.

This is a real litmus test for Obama and what kind of President he will be in his second term. Here’s what I wrote about this subject in my missive, Why I’m Voting for Obama Again:

Every year more than 30,000 people are killed by guns, our homicide rate is 6.9x higher than the average of other developed countries, and there have been 43 mass shootings in the past year. How many more massacres of innocent citizens are we going to endure before adopting sensible gun control laws???

I don’t quarrel with the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns, but isn’t it just common sense that there should first be a background check to weed out those who are on the terrorist watch list (I kid you not – they can legally buy guns!), are mentally ill, have a violent past, etc. And is it really a good idea to allow concealed handguns in bars? And surely it’s sensible to ban high-capacity magazines, which have been used in virtually all mass shootings. Legitimate self-defense doesn’t require a 100-round magazine!

Obama favors sensible gun control laws but, clearly wary of losing the votes of gun owners in swing states, hasn’t pushed this issue at all, though I think this is likely to change in his second term. Romney was actually strongly in favor of gun control when he ran for Senate and served as governor of Massachusetts – he once said assault weapons were “instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people” – but of course he’s completely abandoned those views and there’s no reason to believe that, as president, he’d do anything but toe the NRA line.

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