I have nothing original or profound to say about yesterday’s massacre in Newtown CT, nothing that I did not say in my posts on the Aurora massacre in July (here and here) or the one in Norway last year (here) in any case. Except to shout—and for the umpteenth time—that it is psychotic and insane that a society should allow individuals to easily and legally acquire—over the counter or by mail—weapons such as the one above, which is what was apparently used by the 20-year old perpetrator of the massacre. There is something collectively unhinged in a polity that willingly allows this. This is, alas, one of the perverse effects—one among several—of the American electoral system, the serious distortions of representation in Congress, and other flaws in the American polity’s institutional architecture, and that thereby accords such outsized power to lobbies like the NRA (that Robert Shrum has aptly renamed the National Rampage Association; see also the commentary by David Frum linked to in his, and the links in that one).
One learns, in this article in TNR, that just three miles from the school where the massacre was committed is the HQ of The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is the second most important pro-gun lobby after the NRA.
Hours after the elementary school shooting Friday morning, the NSSF posted a statement on its website: “Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this horrible tragedy in our community. Out of respect for the families, the community and the ongoing police investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment or participate in media requests at this time.”
To this, one wishes to tell the NSSF to go fuck themselves. Likewise for anyone who shares its and the NRA’s world-view. Just go to hell. Now that President Obama has shed tears it’s time for concrete action. After the fiscal cliff stuff is out of the way, he and the Congressional Democrats need to take up the gun issue and push for sensible, but significant, legislation, to ban the sale of assault weapons, buying guns over the Internet, and so on. Change won’t happen right away but, with time and political effort, it can happen, as the politics of gun control may be changing, as this piece, also in TNR, explains. The parts of country where the NRA holds sway—rural America, the South, and mountain West—are pretty much lost to the Democrats at this point, so on the national level at least, the Dems have little to fear by taking on the NRA. Urban, blue state America will support gun control legislation. So Obama, now that he’s been comfortably reelected, should just go for it.
UPDATE: Ezra Klein has an informative Wonkblog post in WaPo on “Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States.”