Enough Is Enough: Debating Gun Control After the Newtown, CT, Shooting

President Obama needs to get real on gun control. Now.

Here’s what we know so far about this morning’s mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut: A gunman entered an elementary school and shot at least 27 people, 18 of whom were children. The kids were in gym class when they heard booms and started screaming. The principals, staff, and teachers rushed to save them and several lost their lives in the process, including the gunman’s own mother*. It’s already being called one of the worst school shootings in American history. And this needs to stop.

According to news sources, President Obama has already called Connecticut governor Dan Malloy to offer his condolences. “The governor took a call from President Obama [and] pledged whatever resources the federal government could bring to bear,” the governor’s spokesperson said. One can only hope that Obama can do much more than that.

The issue of gun control was all but ignored during the epic, most expensive election cycle in American history—this, despite the fact that killing sprees broke out in Aurora, Colo., a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and a manufacturing plant in Minnesota all in the final months of the campaign. According to the great reporting by Mother Jones, there have been 61 mass shootings in the past 30 years, spanning the country from Massachusetts to Hawaii. And nearly all of the shooters got their guns legally. When will enough be enough?

Obama caught fire during his first election cycle when he made an offhand remark about how conservatives “cling to their guns or religion” when they feel like they’re not getting the help they need from their politicians. Since then, he’s left the issue off the table, with only fleeting mentions of the need for reform, even while members of his own party have been shot in the head and left for dead. If conservatives cling to their guns when they’re feeling they’re not heard, what to make of a constituency that is raging at the inaction? The president is scheduled to give a public statement at 3:15 p.m., and his representatives say that “today is not the day” to discuss gun control. But if not today, then when?


* This sentence has been edited to clarify Nancy Lanza’s employment at Sandy Hook Elementary. Initial reports incorrectly identified Adam Lanza’s mother as a teacher at Sandy Hook..