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After School Massacre: Writers and Commentators Call for Tough, Fast Action on Guns | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

After School Massacre: Writers and Commentators Call for Tough, Fast Action on Guns

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.”

Editorial cartoon by the great Tom Toles.  And Yoko Ono (who knows something about this issue) shows what should be done.  Happiness is a banned gun?  Nick Kristof's Sunday column now posted.

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….

The President will likely visit a funeral or a memorial service and, at greater length, comfort the families of the victims, the community, and the nation. He will be eloquent. He will give voice to the common grief, the common confusion, the common outrage. But then what? A “conversation”? Let there be a conversation. But also let there be decisive action from a President who is determined not only to feel our pain but, calling on the powers of his office, to feel the urge to prevent more suffering. His reading of the Constitution should no longer be constrained by a sense of what the conventional wisdom is in this precinct or that. Let him begin his campaign for a more secure and less violent America in the state of Connecticut.

New York Times editorial:

After each tragedy, including this one, some people litter the Internet with grotesque suggestions that it would be better if everyone (kindergarten teachers?) were armed. Far too many Democrats also live in fear of the gun lobby and will not support an assault weapons ban, or a ban on high-capacity bullet clips, or any one of a half-dozen other sensible ideas.

Mr. Obama said Friday that “we have been through this too many times” and that “we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” When will that day come? It did not come after the 1999 Columbine shooting, or the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, or the murders in Aurora last summer.

The more that we hear about gun control and nothing happens, the less we can believe it will ever come. Certainly, it will not unless Mr. Obama and Congressional leaders show the courage to make it happen.

Tampa Bay Times editorial:

For too long in America, the reaction to unspeakable tragedies like the one Friday in Newtown, Conn., has been silence from political leaders. They have allowed fear of retribution from the NRA to trump any common-sense debate, much less legislation. Now with innocent schoolchildren dead, it is past time to turn grief into action.

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Charles M. Blow of the The New York Times hits hard here.  Then there’s Tom Brokaw, in a tweet: “It is not enough to talk about access to guns. We also have to address a popular culture that treats graphic violence as routine.”

Greg Mitchell is the author of more than a dozen books on politics, history, nuclear issues, capital punishment and media. His latest, on the Obama-Romney battle, is Tricks, Lies, and Videotape.

Lee Fang asks, "Does the NRA Represent Gun Owners or Manufacturers?"

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