Why Don’t We Talk about Gun Control Anymore?


Remember the Democratic Revolution of ’06? It ended this week. The court just ruled against abortion rights and for a ban that tells doctors how to treat their patients. Monday, it became glaringly obvious, again, that gun control is the only reasonable position to hold, yet even the Democratic power centers in Congress oppose it: Dean, Webb (who needed to have his gun in the Senate) and Reid.

Looking at the MoJo Top Story box—when it was about gun control, that happier time of yesterday—I wondered why all of the stories except this one dated back to the ’90s. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not our fault. It’s because the Democrats dropped gun control like a hot potato in 2000. Many analysts blamed Gore’s strong gun-control position in the Democratic primary for his loss to Bush in the general election. The Dems believed that swing-state voters were relatively pro-gun—which seems like a pretty inaccurate conclusion since the issue isn’t banning hunting rifles but semi-automatic assault weapons.

But gun control is another one of those issues where the sane position is lost amid the ruckus the crazies make. Most Americans support gun control: In a recent Gallup poll, 49 percent of Americans said gun-control laws should be made stricter, and only 14 percent said they should be less strict. A Salon article explains the Dems’ punt thusly: Robert J. Spitzer, author of “The Politics of Gun Control,” says that “the typical gun control supporter is somebody for whom the issue is not a No. 1 concern, it’s No. 6 or No. 8.” Slate looks at it this way: The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence—the nation’s gun-control lobby—donated $90,000 to pro-gun-control candidates in 2006. Pro-gun groups gave their candidates $3 million—33 times more.

The result? The federal assault weapons ban, passed in 1994, was allowed to expire in 2004. One of the guns Cho Seung-Hui used was in fact illegal under the assault weapons ban, and became legal again in 1994. And Slate reports:

The only meaningful federal restriction on handgun purchases, the Brady Bill, was considered a huge accomplishment when it finally passed in 1993 after a decade of lobbying. But thanks to the private-transfer or “gun show” loophole, about 40 percent of gun sales remain invisible to law enforcement, rendering the law’s mandatory background checks easily avoidable.

Isn’t it time we stopped allowing crazypantses like Wayne La Pierre to dictate our gun policy? After all, there are nearly 30,000 deaths from firearms a year in this country—2 to 3 times as many as in other developed countries.

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