Sandy Hook Massacre Aftermath: New, Effective Gun Control Laws Not Likely
Despite a sudden rush of support for new gun control laws, it's not likely anything effective could be implemented.
Like all of you, I was shocked, horrified, and saddened by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. And probably like a good many of you, I wanted to do something to make sure this could never happen again. After all, it's not the first mass murder this year. It's the seventh. More than 60 people were killed in mass shootings in 2012, including the slaying of six Sikhs by a neo-Nazi and twelve movie-goers at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. The Sandy Hook shooting, though, was the worst, both in numbers and because ...I even have trouble typing this...it was a bunch of little kids...
And it's a trend. There have been over 60 of these kinds of slayings since the early 1980s.
So...what to do?
A lot of folks are clamoring for more restrictive gun control. I've even seen calls for all handguns to be banned. After all, it's not just mass shootings that are a problem; there's also around 87 gun-related deaths each day. As Ezra Klein points out, the number of guns in a community is related to the number of homicides, and the states with stricter gun laws also have fewer gun-related deaths. And banning guns altogether in other countries has led to fewer gun-related homicides -- Japan averages two a year.
There's big obstacle to that particular solution, however. It's the Second Amendment:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Deadspin's Tommy Craggs brings up the argument that the amendment refers to militias, and that it has "nothing to do with private ownership of guns," an interpretation that's closer to the Framers' original intent and one that gun-control advocates for years have used to support legislation that restricts gun ownership. But that's a moot point. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that "the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that weapon for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home," ruling decisively that the militia argument no longer stands, legally. Sweeping gun bans won't happen.
The alternative is to limit the kinds of guns that are allowed. Reinstate the assault weapons ban, say. Lift all bans on litigation against gun manufacturers, say. Of course, neither of these laws would have stopped the Sandy Hook shooting. Adam Lanza apparently carried pistols in addition to his Bushmaster .223, and he got the weapons from his mother's cache, which were apparently legally bought. Maybe he would've killed fewer kids. Which is not nothing.
Another common factor among mass shooters is mental illness. Early reports on Lanza hint at a personality disorder. And funding and services for mental health has been steadily shrinking since the Reagan administration. And given the conservatives who run our governments won't pony up to pay for basic services like education (I'm looking at you, Tom Corbett), I don't see any forthcoming expenditures on mental health.
In short, I don't know what to do. It seems like there the entrenched ideologies -- radically conservative -- that are barriers to real change that could prevent our massive gun violence problem.