In the wake of the Connecticut school massacre, many media commentators have demanded that “this time” pressure for tougher gun laws following such a tragedy must not slacken in the months ahead. Will this case be different? Time will tell. But I will post some of strong appeals here, so check back for updates. Even Rupert Murdoch joined in via Twitter: “Terrible news today. When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons? As in Oz [Australia] after similar tragedy.”
Garry Wills at New York Review of Books on real meaning:
That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometime this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).
The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned.
Gail Collins, New York Times columnist, writes:
We will undoubtedly have arguments about whether tougher regulation on gun sales or extra bullet capacity would have made a difference in Connecticut. In a way it doesn’t matter. America needs to tackle gun violence because we need to redefine who we are. We have come to regard ourselves — and the world has come to regard us — as a country that’s so gun happy that the right to traffic freely in the most obscene quantities of weapons is regarded as far more precious than an American’s right to health care or a good education.
We have to make ourselves better. Otherwise, the story from Connecticut is too unspeakable to bear.
David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, puts it on the president:
So far, Obama, who has shown far greater nerve on a range of issues from health care to gay rights, has held himself hostage to the political adage that there is no ground to be gained in proposing anything stronger than piecemeal gun legislation. He has held himself hostage to the electoral calculus that swing-state voters—in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Colorado, for starters—would reject him if he went deeper on the gun issue. But he won those states. Now it is time for him to risk their affections—to risk disapproval in general—in the name of saving lives….