The New York Times has a front-page editorial today, the first since 1920: “End the Gun Epidemic in America.” An excerpt:
It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.I have just discovered, via this helpful website, that my representative in Congress, John Shimkus (R, Illinois-15), has in the course of his political career received $31,050 from the NRA. Representative Shimkus is up for reëlection in 2016. He may be best known for saying that we don’t need to worry about rising sea levels, because “God said the earth would not be destroyed by a flood.” In my household, Shimkus is also known for unwittingly likening Bruce Rauner to Benito Mussolini. I have called Representative Shimkus’s office before; I will be calling again on Monday.
Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true. They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulation. Those challenges exist. They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did.
But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not. Worse, politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.
On a brighter note, Illinois senator Mark Kirk was the only Senate Republican to vote this week to prohibit people on the F.B.I.’s terrorist watchlist from purchasing guns or explosives. I will be calling Senator Kirk’s office on Monday, too.