Opinion

The Great Debate

The hard push ahead for gun control

Has the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre shifted the gun control paradigm? It certainly looks that way. The outcry for tougher gun laws is reaching a fever pitch.

But it may not be that easy.

The debate over guns has been paralyzed since 1994. That was when gun owners came out in massive numbers and shocked the political world by giving Republicans control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. They were seeking retribution for the Brady handgun control bill and the assault weapons ban passed by the Democratic Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

Since 1994, Democrats have not dared challenge the status quo on guns. Especially since the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the Constitution protects an individual’s right to own a firearm. President Barack Obama rarely mentioned gun control in the 2008 or 2012 presidential campaigns. New gun control laws have never been high on his policy agenda.

Now, in the wake of public outrage over the Connecticut shooting of 20 first-graders, we’re hearing terms like “tipping point” and “game changer.” Democrats who have been strong supporters of gun rights, including Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), are calling for “a new conversation” about guns in this country.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent and a strong gun-control advocate, warned that if Washington fails to pass new gun control legislation, it will be “a stain upon our nation.”

from Jack Shafer:

Are you reading the best magazine in America?

My original commitment to Bloomberg BusinessWeek was so small it was almost negative.

About this time last year, US Airways, Delta, or some other crappy airline notified me that my soon-to-expire frequent flyer miles could be exchanged for magazine subscriptions, which is how I ended up spending something like 600 miles to add a year's subscription to Bloomberg BusinessWeek to my Towering Reading Pile.

My Towering Reading Pile is governed by neo-Darwinian, survival-of-the-smartest-copy laws. With all the good stuff to read directly on the Web, stored on my RSS reader, and stockpiled by my Instapaper account, a mere book, magazine, or newspaper must be exceptional. Some publications (the New York Times) I read thoroughly because everybody I work with (and many of the people I write for) reads it. Other publications I first fillet for their prime morsels, like National Review for Mark Steyn's ongoing chronicle of a planet gone retrograde and Vanity Fair for James Wolcott's recombinant experiments with the American language. On Sundays, I make the weekend editions of the Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times play gladiator by tossing them into a 55-gallon drum and letting them fight it out. Upon returning a half-hour later, I collect the articles that were strong enough to defend themselves and consume them.

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