Two mass shootings within 24 hours in El Paso and Dayton, days after the Garlic Festival killings. Three months after Virginia Beach, six months after Aurora, nine months after Thousand Oaks, 10 months after Tree of Life, 15 months after Santa Fe HS, 18 months after Parkland and in the wake of larger horrors like the Vegas concert and Pulse nightclub massacres.
“God bless the people of El Paso, Texas. God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio,” President Trump tweeted Sunday.
God save us all, sir. People all across the nation are scared; many feel like the country is spinning out of control. They’re looking to their leaders for more than prayers.
America is terrified.
President Trump, you are positioned to assuage that fear. On gun control, you are a pragmatic centrist, someone who knows there is a vast majority of Americans who are not to the extreme left or right on this issue. They just want the killings to stop.
Yes, we know the president regularly praises the Second Amendment and received the National Rifle Association’s support in the 2016 race.
But the Second Amendment leaves ample room for regulating gun rights, just as every other constitutional right has its limits.
And Trump has sneered at others for being afraid of the NRA when it comes to passing common-sense gun laws. He’d surely have rather had Congress pass a law banning bump stocks, although his administration got it done eventually through executive action.
Plus, the NRA is falling apart at the seams these days — with insiders profiteering from hysteria-driven fundraising finally exposed. Far wiser to appeal now to the (much more numerous) Americans who hunt or keep guns for self-defense but are appalled by the endless string of mass shootings.
Come up with answers. Now. Beginning with the return of an assault-weapons ban.
We know: That label doesn’t actually describe a clear class of guns. And that some studies show that the last ban, in effect from 1994 to 2004, had a limited impact. But that simply means the next ban should be better written, with a clear definition focused on factors like firepower — rate of fire, muzzle velocity, etc. — not on cosmetic features.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment protects the right to own “guns in common use.” That doesn’t cover the semiautomatic weapons regularly used only in mass shootings.
This ban would only be part of the response: Keep improving background checks, find wiser approaches to mental health, get every state to pass a red-flag law (do a federal one, too, even if issuing these restraining orders is mainly the job of state courts).
And by all means, do as Sen. Elizabeth Warren suggested in last week’s Democratic debate and “double down on the research and find out what really works.”
Indeed, let’s go for bipartisan action here — maybe some sort of summit of top political leaders; maybe a high-powered commission full of people without political ambition; maybe both, and more.
It’s telling that the 2020 pack’s answers all sounded so tired last week: For decades now, the nation’s gun-control debate has been dominated by those who want all guns banned and NRA-type extremists who see every marginal change as nothing but a step on the road to a universal ban.
Even though the vast majority of Americans are in the middle, desperate for practical measures to stop the carnage.
One of the big reasons that crime has fallen so far in New York City is a crackdown on guns. Their ownership is restricted, and the NYPD is focused on getting illegal ones off the street. Gun control works.
An assault-weapons ban is aimed at the likes of the El Paso shooter, who coldly plotted how to kill as many as possible, as quickly as possible. Let’s make that a lot tougher for the next monster.
“Guns don’t kill people, people do,” says the cliché. But the twisted and the evil can kill a lot more people when handed a murder machine. Our Founding Fathers gave us the right to bear arms in a time of muskets. They did not foresee a time when one 21-year-old could kill 20 people in the span of minutes thanks to poisonous beliefs and an assault weapon.
It does not have to be this way. It should not have to be this way. Mr. President, do something — help America live without fear.