Good news and bad news on U.S. attempts to improve gun control

The good news is that FairWarning reports that public support for many reforms is now at its highest level since 2001. Specifically, a new Gallup poll showed that 38% of Americans want stricter gun controls now compared with only 25% last year. The Scientist tells us  that 100 American researchers have signed a letter asking that restrictions on gun-related violence research be lifted. It is also welcome to learn that the NY State senate has introduced legislation to keep guns away from the mentally ill and to expand a ban on assault weapons. The Center for American Progress (CAP) is pushing for 13 new gun policies, some of which would not require the approval of Congress. CAP’s top recommendation is to require criminal background checks for all gun sales and to close loopholes that currently enable an estimated 40% of sales to occur without any questions asked. The organization also wants to add convicted stalkers and suspected terrorists to the list of those barred from purchasing firearms. And, most importantly, President Obama is determined to act firmly and quickly.

The bad news is that the Gallup poll shows that 43% are happy with present gun regulations and 5% even want them loosened!  Still worse, a report in the New York Times states that gun and ammunition sales have hugely increased because of concerns about future restrictions that might be imposed. Michael Cooper who wrote the Times story quoted an independent gun dealer “If I had 1,000 AR-15s I could sell them in a week.”  (The AR-15 is the style of semiautomatic rifle used in the Newtown school shootings).

Finally, as I was preparing this blog I noticed an advert at the bottom of my Gmail page for a bulletproof backpack to help protect schoolchildren.  I clicked on it because I thought it was a joke; it was not!

Bulletproof Backpacks

Protect your children with a light, kid-friendly armored backpack

It is sold by a group called Amendment2 American Armour.  This is more bad news.  I am convinced that alongside all the specific measures being considered there must be a fundamental shift in the way Americans view the world. Just because the Second Amendment exists does not mean that guns are a desirable or necessary element in our everyday lives. I have never seen a gun (no, I am wrong: when my uncle returned from serving in WWII he brought back a German pistol. I am reasonably certain my grandmother threw it out, and my fascination with it, even as 12 -year old, was short lived.)


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