Editors' Blog

Chat with Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Thursday, 2 PM Eastern

Josh Horwitz is the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a nonprofit devoted to eradicating preventable, predictable gun violence. He has spent over two decades working on this issue in Washington, DC. Josh will be joining us in The Hive (sub req) on Thursday Oct. 8 at 2 PM Eastern to discuss mass shootings in America, the work of his organization, and how to fight back against the NRA’s political power.

— Joe Ragazzo

Clarifying a Point on Gun Politics

I noted earlier that we need a real conversation about guns in this country. And a real conversation requires those who think we have too many guns in society and too much ease in buying them to think seriously about what our preferred policy is. Not just marginally, what we think might be possible and so forth - but what is preferred. I think many people believe that there should be dramatically fewer guns in United States, that it should be harder to purchase guns, that they should be licensed and regulated as you would regulate other extremely dangerous objects. Just speaking for myself, I think you could do all of this and still not interfere with people's ability to hunt. But that's just me.

But there's a premise this argument relies on that I didn't make explicit in my original post.

As long as it seemed possible to pass regulations limiting the most egregious abuses of gun ownership, there was some political logic to accepting the gun culture basically on its own terms and advocating for specific fixes. These include limitations on weapons designed for or less exclusively mass violence, basic background checks on gun purchases, perhaps waiting periods for purchasing a firearm, etc.

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The Stealth Menace

More thoughts on gun culture and the aura of menace from TPM Reader JR ...

Your commenter BF notes there is no equivalent to the anti-abortion protests, against guns. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I'd like to highlight one I think most people are genuinely afraid to talk about. The pro-gun forces have guns, and practice how to use them to protect "their rights" all the time. They fantasize about pointless shoot outs and martyrdom, as resistance to tyranny.

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More on Guns

More thoughts on guns from TPM Reader BF ...

A new gun shop just opened in my neighborhood. There was apparently a protest there one day, though I only heard about it afterwards, and there has been no activity there since. I'm a registered Democrat, a liberal voter, a donor to all sorts of liberal causes, yet no one bothered to reach out to me and ask for support in protesting this new store, or invite me to come out picket. There may be national groups doing something, but at least in my neighborhood there is no grassroots gun control movement at all.

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Thinking Beyond the Moment

I don't think I've ever written anything positive about WaPo editorial page editor Free Hiatt (so maybe I should give this more thought?). That's mainly because of the page's relentlessly establishmentarian tone and our radically different ideas about foreign policy. But here's a column that is important and which you should read. Hiatt gets at a key issue: the biggest victory of the NRA over the last generation isn't so much making even the slightest and most modest gun control measures a political impossibility. The bigger win is the strategic victory of focusing the 'debate' on to such small-bore measures. Let me unpack what I mean by this.

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Is McCarthy Too Weak to be Useful to the Right?

There's a lot of news going on this week (no, we're not complaining). So let's take a moment to observe a pretty embarrassing series of developments in the House GOP leadership transition. Last week, out-going Speaker Boehner scheduled a vote to succeed him for this Thursday, Oct. 8. In case you're just waking up and need this emphasized, that's really, really soon - just three days away. Meanwhile, heir apparent Kevin McCarthy chose last week to kick off an embarrassing gaffe saga which not only raised serious questions about whether he's ready to be, effectively, one of the party's key national spokesmen, but also threatened a critical GOP asset: the ability to use the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi in 2012 to raise money and lower the poll numbers of Hillary Clinton. In other words, a big deal. The story was pushed out of the headlines in part by the horrific massacre in Oregon. But the story seems to still be escalating. So McCarthy's march to his coronation is likely to continue to proceed in parallel with a chorus of calls for him to apologize, recant, prove he's not a doofus and even drop out of the run for Speaker. And those are all coming not from Democrats or the media but from Republicans!

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Understanding the Country's Choice on Guns

In a heated post late Friday, I argued that we've made our choice about guns as a society. Some people called this defeatist. But it's not. I'm not saying the choice can't change at some point in the future. I'm just stating the obvious, which is that the choice is settled and un-conflicted: no amount of massacres or scales of body counts or simply annual numbers of people killed by firearms matter. The ability to have unfettered access to guns is an absolute. This is confirmed by a substantial amount of public opinion research that shows not only that pro-gun sentiment has increased since the Newton Massacre in 2012 but that by many measures it has crossed a historic threshold where 'gun rights' has become the dominant US position.

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The Case for Profiling

Our latest gun massacre raises the troubling effectiveness of the possible use of profiling to limit access to fire arms ...

1. Are you a man?

2. Are you white?

3. Are you between the ages of 15 and 30?

4. Are you currently in a mutually satisfying romantic relationship?

5. Do you feel alone?

6. Do you feel angry?

7. Do you frequently visit 4chan?

8. Do you spend a substantial part of every day thinking about firearms?

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