By Virginia Farrell
As often happens in the aftermath of a national shooting tragedy, we, as a nation, are finding ourselves re-evaluating our gun control laws. Or at least re-evaluating whether we need to re-evaluate them.
Over at the Washington Post, Ezra Klein has assembled several graphs on the topic, showing that gun violence is decreasing and that states with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun related violence.
Although there have been many cries not to “politicize” the massacre, political candidates (especially in an election year) cannot help but take some sort of (hesitant) stance. Obama and Romney have offered up some tentative viewpoints in a pseudo, media-driven debate.
Romney, in an interview with NBC:
Well, this person shouldn’t have had any kind of weapons and bombs and other devices, and it was illegal for him to have many of those things already. But he had them. And so we can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away. It won’t. Changing the heart of the American people may well be what’s essential, to improve the lots of the American people.
Obama, speaking to the National Urban League in New Orleans:
I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. And we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation — that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage. But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals — that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities. I believe the majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons; that we should check someone’s criminal record before they can check out a gun seller; that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily. These steps shouldn’t be controversial. They should be common sense.
Despite their good intentions, both of these statements are factually inaccurate. Romney implies that the Aurora shooter, Holmes, acquired his weapons illegally, which doesn’t seem to be the case. Obama implies that a firmer background check on criminal and mental health history check would have prevented Holmes from purchasing the guns, but Holmes had neither history.
What do you think?
To read our coverage of the Aurora massacre, click here.