No More Newtowns: What Will It Take?
As we sat in horror watching the details of the Newtown school shootings emerge, one question kept pushing through the anger, the grief, the ache to go hug our own kids: What would it take? What, after Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, the Sikh temple shooting, and so many others, what would it take for the nation to grapple with the fact that our gun policy is the equivalent of leaving your gun cabinet unlocked with a “Murderers Help Yourself” sign on it? President Obama is right: We can’t say we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, or that the politics are too hard, or that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom. But what then must we do?
Gun control may be famously intractable, but it doesn’t take a genius to spot a few key correlations:
- There are more guns out there, and fewer controls, than ever before.
- There are a lot of people with mental-health problems, and services have been cut.
- We have seen a record number of mass shootings this year—more than twice as many victims as in any previous year.
- Even if you don’t want to stipulate that 1 and 2 are causally related to 3, making it harder for dangerous people to get lethal weapons can only help.
Many Americans are in agreement, in principle, on point 4. So what would it take for that agreement to translate into action in the face of one of the most powerful lobbies the world has ever seen? What has it taken in the past to change the seemingly unchangeable, from slavery and child labor to the disenfranchisement of women and minorities?