The Difficulty with Passing Gun Control Laws

Danny Hayes in The Washington Post: Will the recent shooting in Virgina be “the incident that leads to reforms that gun control advocates have for years pushed for? … Recent history says we should be doubtful. Not only do numerous political interests make it difficult to enact gun control legislation, but without major efforts by politicians themselves, the gun debate is likely to fade quickly from public view.”

“That’s because of what’s known as the ‘issue attention cycle.’ Mass shootings often generate significant media coverage immediately after they occur. But as time goes by, journalists move on to other stories, leading the public to grow less concerned with gun control. This is what happened in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. As the graph below shows, news coverage of gun control in the nation’s newspapers surged in the shooting’s aftermath, but declined quickly through 2013.”

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  • frankelee

    Two things:
    1. At this point all the gun control articles by non-news sites, the blogs, the Huffposts, etc. look like opportunistic chances for them to cluck their tongues and note how they’re always right, and everyone else is always wrong. And frankly, it just seems like clickbait to be avoided.

    2. President Obama complains about gun laws every time this happens to score political points, doesn’t follow through forcefully, as forcefully certainly as if he really cared. Moreover, if you’re so worried about gun violence, and admittedly rounding up all the guns from all the people isn’t an option, why don’t you then move to solving the underlying reasons for violence and crime in this country. We have a drug war that invites massive amounts of crime, murder, police shootings and violence, and yet Obama can barely be moved to start focusing less on federally prosecuting marijuana in states that have voted to make it legal. Also, where has he been while we militarized America’s police departments? You wanna show a commitment to less gun violence, how about you take away all those assault weapons and armored personnel carriers that the military sold the cops. You want people to feel safer, the local police not being armed with machine guns is a great place to start? But no, those would be real steps an effective President would take. So they won’t happen under this administration.

    • embo66

      You make some good points, but to lay all blame at Obama’s feet is really, really stretching it.

      For one thing, Obama cannot enact laws. Period. Any president is reliant on Congress to do so. Many, many elected officials — and police departments, too, BTW — would like to ban assault weapons, institute reasonable restrictions on gun purchases, etc. In fact, even the NRA used to be for these things before they suddenly were against them. A lot of that turnaround had to do with Obama’s first election, when suddenly a lot of normally sane people abandoned these reasonable positions; many also went out and bought boatloads of weapons because . . . ?? They used the excuse that “Obama is going to take our guns,” though where that hysteria originated is hard to pin down, as he never mentioned it at all during the campaign of 2007-08.

      Besides, politicians are not a very courageous — or creative — bunch. And as long we we have them so dependent on funds from special interests, and deep-pocketed interests like the NRA and the whole conservative media-sphere against even the smallest restrictions on gun ownership, most of these officials won’t stick their necks out on gun policy.

      As for the “militarization of police departments,” that started wa-a-a-y before Obama, during the heady post-9-11 days when spending on “national security” went through the roof and law enforcement organizations across the land were suddenly inundated with millions and millions of dollars — money they often didn’t really even need after the first year or so. That’s when they started buying all these cool SWAT goodies, etc., a practice which “surplused” military goods coming from the wind-down in Iraq just further exacerbated.

  • Fat Hubie

    “Gun control” means taking the inalienable rights of American citizens. There is no “gun control debate”…

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