We want to envision ourselves as a nation of vigilantes protecting ourselves with our guns but that’s not what’s happening. We’re an overarmed nation helping gun makers get richer by believing blatant lies that the government is plotting to take away the guns and believing the myth that we’re protecting and not endangering ourselves.
We’re a nation seduced by the NRA’s idea that the answer to the gun problem is more guns. We are a nation that leads the world in mass killings. A nation with just about one gun per person, and a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill a friend or a family member, or the gun’s owner, than to be used for self-defense. The FBI says there are only 200 legally justified self-defense homicides a year. And 30,000 gun deaths a year.
Tuesday, the vice president will send his boss recommendations for the White House’s gun control package. This is part of what could be the most crucial moment in the Obama administration, perhaps the most important legislation they’ll ever propose. Because gun laws do work. Studies have shown firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun legislation.
This map shows states by gun deaths… and this one shows states by strictness of gun legislation. The correlation is strong. Banning assault weapons, requiring trigger locks and mandating safe storage works. The NRA would like you to believe that no legislation can help, but this is simply counter factual. No one obvious law could’ve stopped Adam Lanza but we can make our world safer.
Public policy is meant to be aspirational. To try to make the world better. The White House knows this, just as it knows that the right has gone extreme on this—so far into Second Amendment absolutism that if it’s not “any weapon, anywhere” they fall down the slippery slope into confiscation leading them to be the Party of Glocks. Gun safety is no longer a clear loser for Democrats who have lost pro-gun rural voters and gotten nothing to show for it, but a fear of gun control. The suburban and urban voters who show up for Dems in droves need the President to save us from the gun epidemic. We need him to fear nothing but fear itself.
I hope the White House pushes to ban assault weapons and extended magazines, and make background checks universal and prosecute everyone who lies on a background check, and modernize gun tracing, and expand reporting on who has guns, and study gun deaths, and push for safe storage in the home, something that may have stopped Adam Lanza.
This is a moment when the political calculus must be thrown out. It can longer be about what’s politically safe. It has to be about trying to save lives. If you’re not fighting to help people’s lives then why are you in DC? Mr. President, don’t back down now.