President Obama said yesterday in the wake of the Connecticut school mass shooting: “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
About to start his second term, he’s now in a more realistic position to take the lead on doing something. The country is more polarized than ever, however. The rhetoric we use (“gun control,” “gun rights,” “gun violence” and “Second Amendment”) reflects this, according to Nate Silver.
The change in rhetoric may reflect the increasing polarization in the debate over gun policy. “Gun control,” a relatively neutral term, has been used less and less often. But more politically charged phrases, like “gun violence” and “gun rights,” have become more common. Those who advocate greater restrictions on gun ownership may have determined that their most persuasive argument is to talk about the consequences of increased access to guns — as opposed to the weedy debate about what rights the Second Amendment may or may not convey to gun owners. For opponents of stricter gun laws, the debate has increasingly become one about Constitutional protections.
Some possibilities on what could be done (gleaned from this NY Times article):
- reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004
- ban high-capacity magazines
- require criminal background checks on gun buyers at gun shows
- improve instant background checks to more thoroughly catch people with histories of mental illness.
- ban the import of assault rifles like AK gun
- focus on people with mental illness who use firearms
- toughen background checks, which are not currently required for guns bought from unlicensed, private sellers