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You have an opinion, but do you have what it takes to be heard?

Ted Reinstein
Holliston, MA

Ted Reinstein

I've taken a passionate approach to understanding issues in my job as a reporter. Now I'd like the opportunity to defend my positions.

Guns: the invisible issue

Editor's note: The contestants were given free rein for their second post of the day. You can read Ted Reinstein's earlier post here.

 

Given the state of the economy, it's little surprise that it, and jobs, are the most resonant political issues right now.  Those clamoring loudest for a change in Washington--Tea Partiers, for example--wisely limit their engagement at present with social issues like abortion, gay marriage, and prayers in school, just to name a few.

 

After all, why shrink the big tent when the party's just getting started?

 

But the issue of gun control has also largely disappeared from the political radar-- even for Democrats, who as a party, have traditionally been disproportionately in favor of various forms of gun control.  Actually, perhaps I should say, especially for Democrats.

 

Ever since Al Gore's politically-damaging experience with the issue in 2000, few Democratic candidates have gone near it.  Indeed, President Obama, no less, has signed a bill permitting firearms in national parks.  In June, the Supreme Court voted to extend local gun rights provisions.  You didn't have to tell 'em twice in some states: In Louisiana, a bill was signed allowing guns in houses of worship, and in Arizona legislators voted to allow handguns in bars.

 

Fact is, the NRA's new slogan could be, "Our work here is done."

 

But handgun violence is one social issue that is not simply disengaged from.

 

On September 28 in Boston, a multiple homicide occurred that had even hardened cops shaken and staring off blankly into the middle distance: Five people shot, execution-style, including a mother and her toddler.

 

Blogging about the killings, John Rosenthal, Founder and Chairman of Stop Handgun Violence, wrote:

 

"The Mattapan/Boston killings this week looked more like third world death squad assassinations than your typical gang and turf-related shootings......today and everyday there are an average of 80-90 gun deaths (30-40,000 gun deaths annually) in the US and approximately 80 percent are people of color, living and dying in a few poor urban neighborhoods in America where there are few jobs or economic opportunities. Yet, thanks to Congress and the lack of even a criminal background check requirement for all gun sales in the US, the one thing these communities have in abundance is easy and unrestricted access to guns."

What there's still no easy and unrestricted access to is gun control.  And what we have in abundance in Washington is relentless cowardice on a social issue that kills Americans like a plague, but never gets dealt with.

There are reasonable, even small and incremental solutions.  Won't happen. 

In the election year of 2010, as it will be in 2012, gun control is the political issue that dare not speak its name.  The two words themselves may as well go back to being what the bumper sticker always said: "GUN CONTROL IS USING BOTH HANDS."

Because it sure isn't using our heads.

Read more posts from this round. See what the judges are saying. And cast your vote on Friday.

By Ted Reinstein  |  October 21, 2010; 5:02 PM ET  | Category:  Blogging Challenge
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Comments

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Borrrrrring.

Posted by: JackRyan82 | October 23, 2010 11:46 PM
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For those of you who asked for a fresh line of thought, here is something new to think about.

Gun sales could be a nearly inexhaustible source of revenue for cash strapped states. Since we don't seem to be able to limit gun sales to law abiding purchasers, we should at least get some benefit back to society for the damage they cause.

Like moonshining, we won't eliminate private sales of weapons to criminals and lunatics, but we could tax them. They never could get Al Capone for the murder and mayhem he caused in Southside Chicago, but they did get him on tax evasion.

Posted by: capmbillie | October 22, 2010 8:48 PM
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NRA and political obstructionists (John McCain R-AZ, Joe Barton R-TX, etc): Stop the flow of guns and ammunition from USA border state’s (Arizona, Texas, New Mexico) into Mexico. Crack down on USA border state gun dealers. They are selling the guns that are killing Mexican and American civilians, law enforcement and politicians. Money for Marijuana is used to buy American guns to kill both Americans and Mexicans. Stop that first before crying about Mexican refugees who are fleeing both violence and poverty.

U.S. Stymied as Guns Flow to Mexican Cartels
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/15/us/15guns.html
“In Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, dealers can sell an unlimited number of rifles to anyone with a driver’s license and a clean criminal record without reporting the sales to the government….. Firearms are lightly regulated; gun smugglers can evade detection for months or years.”

“Sending straw buyers into American stores, cartels have stocked up on semiautomatic AK-47 and AR-15 rifles, converting some to machine guns, investigators in both countries say. They have also bought .50 caliber rifles capable of stopping a car and Belgian pistols able to fire rifle rounds that will penetrate body armor.

Federal agents say about 90 percent of the 12,000 pistols and rifles the Mexican authorities recovered from drug dealers last year and asked to be traced; came from dealers in the United States, most of them in Texas and Arizona.”

Posted by: Airborne82 | October 22, 2010 1:08 PM
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Tax Guns to pay for their damages.

Tax guns to pay for law enforcement and firearm related medical expenses; require gun owners carry accidental death and maiming Insurance; require federal registration of all gun sales (including bazaar and personal sales) and eliminate the sale of assault weapons.

Virginia is doing it’s part to put guns in the hands of criminals and increase gun violence and crime:

Gun laws make Va. a Mecca for felons with credit cards
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/30/AR2010093006195.html
“one of the nation's leading gun-buying bazaars for out-of-state criminals.”

Posted by: Airborne82 | October 22, 2010 1:03 PM
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I'm no NRA member, but there's really nothing fresh here on the topic of gun control. It's formulaic writing: Cite an example of violence involving firearms and use it as a springboard to call for more gun laws.

I'd have been more interested in reading a less predictable stance, or at least one that introduced a new and unexpected strategy or two.

Posted by: UponFurtherReview | October 22, 2010 11:06 AM
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Well said. Sad but true the Gun lobby rules, while police and citizens die. Fear controls our heads.

Posted by: chucky-el | October 22, 2010 10:27 AM
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Way to close strong. Really enjoyed this post. It really is too bad that gun control is now yet another political hot potato the Democrats can't drop quickly enough.

If you make it through to the next round, would love to see something on the effects of US gun control policy (or lack thereof) on the continuing violence and instability in Mexico.

Posted by: waltersobchak2 | October 21, 2010 7:32 PM
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