When Newtown observed the first anniversary of its tragic 2012 massacre, the locals asked for the media to stay away. For the most part, journalists gave them the space they needed to privately grieve.
That quiet reflection didn’t mean there was no wallowing in and reliving the event, which claimed the lives of 20 kids, six educators, the gunman, and his mom. In Connecticut’s press, you’d have thought this tragedy happened yesterday.
But not if you look at Connecticut’s gun laws. Unlike Congress, which caved once again to the NRA in 2013, the state’s lawmakers took real action on gun control. So did their counterparts in another 20 states and the District of Columbia.
Others responded the opposite way. A total of 29 states passed laws easing gun restrictions last year. Some communities even adopted mandatory gun ownership ordinances in Newtown’s aftermath.
And Connecticut’s gun manufacturing industry has filed three lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the new laws. A judge has dismissed one so far, and the other two actions are still pending.
Gun dealer and shooting-range owner Scott Hoffman is riled up enough over Connecticut’s new gun control measures that he’s selling an heirloom revolver to raise $100,000. He’ll use the proceeds of his never-fired weapon — it’s inlaid with 24-karat gold, ornately engraved, and adorned with ivory and scrimshaw — to back candidates who oppose gun control and ammunition restrictions, the Hartford Courant reports.
While the Newtown commemoration passed quietly if morbidly in Connecticut and most of the country, Colorado experienced another tragic school shooting.
On Dec. 14, 2013, exactly one year after the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary, an 18-year-old student fatally wounded 17-year-old Claire Davis at his own Colorado high school before killing himself.
Before that incident, Colorado’s legislature had also taken action following the Aurora movie-theater massacre. Following the introduction of tougher laws, the number of background checks in the state rose last year.
But most of Colorado’s sheriffs are resisting that state’s new sterner gun laws. And sheriffs in New York, California, Florida, and other states are voicing objections too.
Since when do sheriffs get to choose which laws to enforce?
And can this Congress stand up to the gun lobby on anything? Sort of. Both divided and do-nothing U.S. chambers did renew the federal ban on manufacturing plastic guns just before the prior 10-year prohibition expired. Unfortunately, lawmakers first rejected efforts to catch up with 21st-century technology.
Plastic guns aren’t just toys anymore. Working models can now be produced using 3-D printers. Their great advantage, aside from swift manufacturing, is that metal detectors don’t catch them.
As Congress and state lawmakers consider new gun control laws in 2014, they should contemplate the national death toll from guns.
Since 1968, 1.4 million Americans have died from gunshots. That’s more than all the soldiers we have lost in all our wars.
Isn’t it time for a truce in this war on ourselves?