COMMENTARY ON LAWYERING, LANGUAGE, AND POLITICS
Monday, December 17, 2012
The Bracing Political Reality of Gun Control - Jonathan Chait- New York Magazine
Gun violence is a broad epidemic enabled by the fact that so many Americans consider gun possession to be a human right. And they are backed by he Supreme Court and a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Prepare for the long haul. - GWC The Bracing Political Reality of Gun Control by Jonathan Chait New York Magazine
I fully share the utter emotional devastation that is naturally metastasizing into broad hopes of political reform. It is natural to think that the emotional magnitude of the massacre must therefore have some proportion to its magnitude as a political event. But this is just as untrue as the comforting fallacy that every great tragedy must do some good. Some things have changed since Friday, but most have not.
The first obstacle still standing is that the vast bulk of American gun violence would not be stopped by banning military-style weapons, but would require not only halting the sale but probably also confiscating regular handguns. (Rifles of all kinds accounted for just 323 of the 12,664 murders victims last year.) Such a step would run into a wall of massive opposition from the public, which opposes a general handgun ban by about a three to one margin, but also the Supreme Court, which has interpreted the Second Amendment not as the preservation of militias but as a right to private gun ownership, and has thus struck down handgun bans.
So we’re left for the foreseeable future with far more limited measures, like more extensive background checks and bans on semiautomatic weapons or large ammunition clips. Such steps command strong public support. But, worthwhile though they may be, we are not even talking about ending mass shootings but attempting to make them a less frequent and a bit less deadly — worthwhile reforms, but not transformative ones.