There are limitations to all American rights, a point that opponents of President Obama’s gun-control push should consider when reciting chapter and verse on the Second Amendment. It is no more absolute than the First.
No one is trying to take away guns. But in the wake of some of the worst massacres in recent history, it is fair and appropriate to push for gun controls that could ultimately save lives.
Obama was recently in Denver to drum up public support for his agenda, strategically using a tour of a police academy to put pressure on Congress. The president’s task is monumental. He has to somehow reignite Americans’ short-term memories surrounding recent tragic events.
He needs to keep it up. The effort is important, even if the National Rifle Association and other gun lobby groups insist the only answer to violence is more guns – even in schools.
The details are hard to forget for those living in Colorado, where two of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history occurred – the 1999 killings at Columbine High School and last summer’s attack at a movie theater in Aurora.
Colorado gets it. State legislators there have enacted stronger gun laws regarding background checks.
As for the latest tragedy, it’s barely been 100 days since 20 children – babies, really – and six adults were killed in a mass attack in Newtown, Conn. Not that long ago, and certainly not to the parents and grandparents of those killed and surely not to those young survivors from Sandy Hook Elementary School.
And yet, public opinion polls show a drop-off in support for the gun-control initiatives. What short memories. Gun-control advocates are worried time is running out for the administration. Obama is pulling out the stops, but public support for gun control is losing steam.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut Senate approved wide-ranging gun-control legislation, including measures that ban the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines and 100 weapons that previously had been legal. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed the bill. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo offered praise for Connecticut.
Cuomo has taken an enormous amount of criticism for New York’s SAFE Act, but he delivered a fiery defense of the law during a visit to The News editorial board last week. He said he had worked on gun control for decades, throughout his career. Quick passage of the New York law had less to do with political points than passion for saving even one life, Cuomo said. He seemed sincere, but even if he wasn’t he was accurate: The law has cost him support upstate.
New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney should be able to do the same without fear for her life. The congresswoman said she received death threats over her proposed gun-control legislation. The bill would require weapons owners to hold liability insurance.
Gun-control laws do not have to infringe upon the Second Amendment, as has already been demonstrated, and the government isn’t coming to take away Americans’ guns. But this country has to learn from tragedies to reduce the chance that they will be repeated.