Guns have killed more than 900 Americans since December 14, 2012. The shocking statistic seems powerful enough on its own to prompt the type of action seen in President Obama's gun-control announcement today. And yet the 23 executive actions and legislative laundry list—gun reform of a size not seen since 1968—were not motivated by the thousands of gun deaths the United States tallies every year alone. No, the only time our nation grapples with our curious and well-documented history of violence is when the magnitude of tragedy is condensed into a moment, such as the shooting that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary the morning of December 14.
As Obama gave his remarks today, four children stood behind him, each only a few years older than the 20 kids whose lives were snuffed out that morning in Newtown, Connecticut, and a visceral reminder of why we need to tackle gun-control legislation now. The 900 dead since Newtown, though? Obama only mentioned them in passing while he spent paragraphs addressing the massacres in suburban Connecticut and Aurora and Oak Creek. But they are the lives that gun-control legislation could save—the 513 people killed in Chicago in 2012, the more than 400 killed in New York City, the 333 killed in Detroit. Still, the families of those 900 victims—who typically don't look like the affluent denizens of a close-knit Connecticut community—won't appear in the background of an Obama address. Any mention they earn on the House floor will be brief.
The fact that a massacre prompts a national debate on guns instead of the daily deaths means that we're still not truly addressing the epidemic of gun violence in the United States. And because of that, whatever legislation ends up on the books will be a significantly watered-down version of what Obama outlined today, likely not putting much of a dent in either the thousands of homicides that fill local newspapers or the mass shootings that get us all talking about guns in the first place. If the steady death toll in Chicago shocked us as much as that awful morning in Newtown—merely shocked us in proportion to the numbers—we could hope for genuine change. But the sad fact is, it doesn't.
So They Say
"The type of assault rifle used in Aurora, for example, when paired with high-capacity magazines, has one purpose—to pump out as many bullets as possible, as quickly as possible; to do as much damage, using bullets often designed to inflict maximum damage. And that's what allowed the gunman in Aurora to shoot 70 people—70 people—killing 12 in a matter of minutes. Weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater. A majority of Americans agree with us on this."
Daily Meme: Friendly Discourse
- @pdibbs1000: Obama... Is attempting to take out the second ammendment.. #Impeach obama!!
- @dan_grin: Executive orders? Do you guys realize that by DEFINITION Obama is committing treason? #impeach
- @blueninth: There's a lot more than just gun control to #impeach Obama on. Does Bengahzi, and forcing Obamacare on people ring a bell?
- @mikerieger7: @Barackobama exploiting children is dispicable. Hitler, Mao, Stallin etc.. ur the 2nd coming of Hitler. We will impeach!
- @mindymcsparin: More executive orders. Guess it's the United States of Obama. #impeach
- @mikmariehall: Republicans, you DO realize that if we impeach Obama, Joe Biden becomes President, right?
- @figdrewton: So far, the only policy rebuttal I've seen is "impeach." This is why we don't win.
- And, last but not least, the legislators who also want to impeach Obama.
What We're Writing
- Rob Fischer tallies Aaron Swartz's impressive contributions to Internet freedom, and looks at the blueprint his example has set for the future.
- Abby Rapoport digs into a federal real-estate programs and finds they're helping the least-needy most.
What We're Reading
- Meet the NRA board, i.e. career graveyard for people moms had crushes on in the 80s.
- Yes, the aid for Smithsonian roof repair does have to do with Hurricane Sandy relief. Molly Redden explains.
- Andy Kroll reports on Mitch McConnell's uphill battle for re-election in 2014.
- New spending permitted by Citizens United brought up the final pricetag of the 2012 election by $1 billion.
- The C.E.O. of Whole Foods apparently thinks the Affordable Care Act is basically fascism.
- The White House is lifting the threshold for We the People petitions so they only have to hear the most ardent secessionists.
- Michael Specter has a brutal take on the decaying myth of Lance Armstrong.
- Headline of the day, courtesy of Andy Borowitz: "Republicans Accuse Obama of Using Position as President to Lead Country."
- The right simply adores Marco Rubio's immigration plan—funny, since it's basically Obama's.
- Rick Perry knows how to stop gun violence: "pray for help."
Poll of the Day
Charlie Crist is on track to return to his old job, according to a new survey from Public Policy Polling. His successor as Florida's governor, Republican Rick Scott, has an abysmal approval rating: Just 33 percent of Floridians are happy with the job he's done, compared to 57 percent who disapprove. Crist, a former GOPer who has switched to a Democrat, is popular among voters from both parties and would beat Scott 53-39 percent in a general election.