Viewpoint: If We Want Gun Control, We’ll Need to Compromise

Americans have reached "tipping points" before, but those who want stronger gun laws need to appeal to the broad middle of the nation

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Mike Segar / Reuters

Wooden angel figures stand in a wooded area near Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 16, 2012, to honor the victims of the school shooting

In the wake of the heartbreaking mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, supporters of gun control have argued that the attack should be a turning point in galvanizing popular opinion against guns — and producing strong gun-control legislation.

President Obama declared Saturday that “we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action” — though he did not provide details. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said that when Congress returns she will introduce a bill to restore the assault-weapons ban. Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said on Face the Nation on Sunday that “we could be at a tipping point” on gun-control legislation.

(MORE: Sandy Hook Shooting: Why Did Lanza Target a School?)

If any crime could usher in a new gun-control regime, last week’s slaughter of 20 6- and 7-year-olds should. But will it? Not likely. The same “tipping points” have presented themselves after previous mass shootings, but little progress has been made. Instead of continuing to act as if the nation is poised to reject guns, advocates for gun control should switch tactics. They should accept the reality that support for guns remains strong and work for a bipartisan “grand compromise” that offers gun owners substantive benefits in exchange for reasonable gun restrictions.

The U.S. has been confronted with a lot of horrific gun violence in recent years: the 32 killed at Virginia Tech in 2007; the 13 killed at Texas’ Fort Hood in 2009; the attack last year on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords that left six people dead, including a federal judge; the 12 people killed in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater this year. But as mass shootings have become more frequent and more deadly, popular opinion has been moving steadily in favor of greater gun rights. In 1993, a Pew Research Center poll found that support for gun control overpowered support for gun rights by 57% to 34%. By this year, the margin had fallen to 47% to 46%. This support for guns is not just abstract: the FBI has logged a record 16.8 million background checks for gun purchases this year.

(PHOTOS: Connecticut Community Copes After School Shooting)

All of which makes the National Rifle Association’s goal of blocking gun-control laws a lot easier. It’s still possible that last week’s attack will swing popular opinion so strongly against guns that the NRA is powerless to stand in the way, but the odds are against it. Given that, the best chance for stronger laws would be for gun-control advocates to work with moderate members of the gun-owning community and come up with a grand-compromise gun bill. That means a bill that does not demonize guns but instead seeks to build a consensus in favor of prudent gun use.

A key to such a compromise would be trying to win the support of hunters by offering a bill that is respectful of gun traditions — to undercut the NRA’s often effective claim that “they are coming after your guns.” The compromise bill should also offer law-abiding sportsmen and sportswomen tangible improvements in the law — ones that do not increase the chances of mass shootings. The bill could expand the right to hunt certain nonendangered species in particular places and times. It could streamline some of the unnecessary red tape that hunters complain about in getting licenses. The drafters should look at other items on hunters’ legislative wish list, like excluding ammunition and fishing tackle from the Toxic Substances Control Act.

(MORE: In the Shadow of Sandy Hook, a Powerful Gun Organization Stays Silent)

In exchange for these substantive benefits, moderate gun owners should be willing to go along with important gun-control provisions that are not aimed at them. These could include the top items on the gun-control agenda: the assault-weapons ban, tougher background checks on gun purchasers, and stricter penalties for “straw purchasers” who illegally buy guns for people who should not have them.

Some supporters of gun control have been noting triumphantly that the NRA has laid low since Friday’s shooting — and that according to host David Gregory, no pro-gun Senators agreed to go on Meet the Press on Sunday. But this is what the gun lobby does after a mass shooting — it would be a mistake to believe that they are going away.

It’s tempting to engage in anti-gun polemics and hope that popular opinion will dramatically shift, but it is also likely a mistake. The smarter course for those who want stronger federal gun-control laws anytime soon is legislative stewardship and compromise. The best way to get the job done is to craft a law that appeals to the broad middle of the nation, pull in as many pro-gun moderates as possible, and marginalize the NRA and other anti-gun-control extremists.

MORE: The Latest Crime-Solving Technique the Gun Lobby Doesn’t Like

1058 comments
KarryDayton
KarryDayton

One is either in contempt for the Constitution or in contempt for local customs and ideals.  It need to not take an IQ of 140 to weigh out the values and make a rational and intelligent decision about which of those has more value: The unchanging supreme law of the land that ensures equality and protection from the Government otherwise known as the Constitution or the constant mutable ever changing emotionalism of mostly cowardly individuals whom are too afraid to take up protection of their own lives, let alone their own rights, otherwise known as local customs.  Frankly, I choose the Constitution, for it ensures that my neighbors and friends and loved ones are best suited to pursue their own happiness and thus, by doing so, ensures that my own freedom be maintained.  The other option always ends in Tyranny.  No local or contemporary law can supersede the Constitution.  It can only be altered by Constitutional amendment.  If it could the sitting government anywhere in the US could simply do away with the vote and appoint themselves for life.  No one would let that happen in the real world, why are we so willing to let it happen to other parts of the Constitution?  If you want to change the 2nd, then by all means put it to a vote and have it ratified by the States.  But until that moment, should we not have respect for the full document?  In the end 'gun control' is misnomer, the real conversation should be about the value of the Constitution and it's place in your future.

RubenoffJohnson
RubenoffJohnson

we all have the rights to own reasonable gun's ie' a rifle for hunting, a shotgun for game birds and a hand gun for home protection, if we have a clear criminal record and no mental issue's we should have no problem pre qualifying in the background check prior to the purchase of the guns we want to fullfill the wishe's in our rights, We then have the responsibility to ensure all these guns are secured in a steel lockable gun safe away from children, and if we want the children to use the rifles, we must for safety send them to gun safety training courses, seems pretty basic stuff, Guns will not be taken away unless we abuse their use in criminal activitie's in which we have abused our own right's and must suffer the action's of the prevailing law's

tinklebrook
tinklebrook

It is very sad that almost half of Americans are willing to voluntarily relinquish basic constitutional rights and are so ignorant of our own history to believe that the 2nd Amendment is about hunting. The Federalist Papers are very clear. The populace, the 'We The People' part, were to have like firearms for three reasons. 1) in case the government drifted toward tyranny, and 2) in case the military tried for a coup, 3) to be ready to serve our government in defending our country in case of invasion.

While I would agree that all seem unlikely to most Americans today, I am sure that Jews felt safe in Germany in the 1920's, Chinese felt empowered before Mao Tze Tung, Cambodia never imagined Pol Pot, and the Russians were quite surprised that Stalin's government could murder 65 million people.

ColoradoPhil
ColoradoPhil

That is one big step in the right direction. However, the gun lobby is as strong as it is because of the gun owners who support the right to self defense. Without jthem there is still no chance of change.

acstorm07
acstorm07

THERE IS NO COMPROMISE !!!


This attack on Assault weapons, semi auto's and large capacity magazines are just a stepping stone for these Dictators. They will not be satisfied until we are totaly disarmed and inslaved. History does not lie.


NO COMPROMISE !!!!

WilliamYarbrough
WilliamYarbrough

The Constitution allows for no compromise if this nation is to survive.

BenjaminAllenWhetham
BenjaminAllenWhetham

"Compromise" to a liberal means "give us what we want." In a few years they call for more compromise which amounts to "give us more of what we want." There is NEVER any talk about liberals giving up a bit on some view they hold.

As someone else pointed out about abortion. "Will you compromise and  also support "common sense laws for unborn children"  something like finding the youngest preemie  to survive and make that the last date for an abortion, as it is now proved that babies that young are viable." Yet if you were to put that in a serious bill the liberals would be jumping from rooftops rather than support such compromise.

We see the same with guns, automatic weapons are already heavily regulated under the 1934 NFA tax and the registry was closed in 1986, limiting the supply. Those of us into NFA weapons for years have simply wanted the registry re-opened so we don't have to spend $9,000 to buy a legal 26 year old full-auto 10/22  22 rimfire while the Mexican drug cartels pay $150 for brand new illegal AKs from China, Russia, or wherever.. Yet if this too were put up to a vote liberals would be claiming that we want to give automatic weapons to school children despite the NFA regulations that would remain in place along with the laws on illegal guns.

They complain about pollution from lead bullets, but then ban non toxic steel core ammunition as "armor piercing" even though they use rebar grade steel that gives mo more armor penetration than lead. They want to mandate all copper ammunition, ignoring, for the time being, that copper has its own pollution issues as well.

We have already "compromised" too much when it comes to guns. More is not going to solve anything and lessening some laws won't make things worse.

Jason'Honey-Badger'Whitson
Jason'Honey-Badger'Whitson

Define "assault weapon", because it is NOT the same thing as "assault rifle" which are already banned and/or strictly controlled.

Banning "assault weapons" is a banial and pointless task pursuant to banning things that look scary or make noise.  Want to decrease these types of tragedies, stop failing children at young ages when it comes to teaching them REAL coping skills and expectations about life.  The liberals are murdering children daily by forcing them to believe in these false "self esteem" agenda that leaves them unable to cope with real life once they get into the real world.

josco
josco

Here's the thing.  Gun control works.  The mother of the Sandy Hook
shooter failed to control her guns.  That cost her her life, the life of
her son, and the innocent victims at the school.  You want guns?  Go
ahead.  Have them.  But you control them.  The mother knew her
son was a wacko.  Why in the name of all that's responsible would she allow
him anywhere near them?  She was judged responsible, bought them legally,
and put them in the hands of her irresponsible son.
So, have your guns.  And if they fall out of your responsible grasp and
are, for any reason, used in a crime, let you be charged as if you had committed
it.  That's responsibility.  I can live with that.  The children
at Sandy Hook would have, too.

dontn123
dontn123

Who abides by gun control?  Is it a. Criminals or b. law abiding citizens?  Gee ain't it so simple. Now let's balance the budget where I'll trade you 2 small dirty dimes for that big shiny nickel.

mwacky4u
mwacky4u

Gun control is a flawed social policy. It cannot stop mass violence. All societies foster violence of sorts. Life for people who live at the fringes is hard, worrisome, demeaning, and prone to evoke anger. I assert that in America--a dynamic and adaptive society--many people survive at the fringes. Anger which cannot be expressed with guns, can be express with vehicular homicide (cars, trucks, planes), bombs, arson, and poisonings. Block the sale of guns—and someone will innovate. The media will spread the news. Copycat acts of violence will flourish. This is a historical fact. Why does American society today (2012) foster mass violence more than Great Britain or Germany? There may be no singular answer. However, the people at the fringes of each society surely differ as do the types of worries and frustrations that these people endure. American society today (2012) is what it is. I do not propose sweeping social change. I do invite intelligent and thoughtful dialogue. Politicians back agendas that win elections. When the majority fear guns, "gun control" becomes law. But American society continues unchanged and unchallenged. Mass violence has been—and will likely continue to be—endemic to human social relations until our cultural and social values change.

RobertPerrotta
RobertPerrotta

http://wh.gov/nLac

Sign this petition against an assualt weapons ban. The far left spoke. Now we must say our piece. We cannot sit by and let our second amendment rights be stripped away. The media and far left use the word assualt rifle in a manner that means to strike fear in those who know no better. There has been not a single "assualt weapon used in the recent attacks. An assualt weapon is a weapon with selective fire. The first step is this legislative action to ban assualt weapons.. The next is the total errosion of the 2nd amendment. Please speak out before it is to late, your opinion counts.

bernardmmarx
bernardmmarx

Changing any sort of gun laws won't make a difference, just look at China. Guns cannot be bought by citizens in China, but that hasn't stopped violence. In fact on the same day as Sandy Hook a Chinese man stabbed 22 children in school and an 85 year old woman before he was subdued. Five similar incidents have occurred in China  since 2010 with the victim count numbering more than 80. The fuss about gun control illustrates just how ignorant the majority of the public is. Can't anyone see that weapons aren't the problem? This violence is caused by the moral vacancy, emotional disenfranchisement, and sense of absolute apathy promoted by our culture. We are the cause of all of this violence. Gun control is only a ruse. I hope to God that I am not the only one who sees this.

summerhb
summerhb

My proposal is to implement a sensor or GPS locator in all assault rifles and dangerous weapons that can impact a large population of innocent people and/or bystanders. These weapons, sensors and GPS components are very applicable to incorporate into the assault rifles and would alert local authorities, school personnel, and people in surrounding areas to be aware of.

Just like the sensors in the department stores that can identify theft of an item.

Brian Summerhill

Truthinaction
Truthinaction

More people die accidentally from doctor's than those who die in car crashes and by firearms combined!

So using this leftie wingnut logic, we need to ban doctors

Trey
Trey

Will you compromise and  also support "common sense laws for unborn children"  something like finding the youngest preemie  to survive and make that the last date for an abortion, as it is now proved that babies that young are viable.  I some what doubt  you will support that due to the slippery slope you would now be standing on.  We the people that believe the founders meant for us to have effective arms feel the same way .. first "assault weapons"  then it will be "easily hidden" then well you get the idea I think.


The US Supreme court has fond in our favor as well as the weapons protected by the 2nd are those in "common use" by any measure the self loading rifle with standard size magazines is in common use.

DC v Heller  

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-290.ZO.html

Search for "common use"

llandrus
llandrus

"The bill could expand the right to hunt certain nonendangered species in particular places and times." States, not the federal government, are in charge of wildlife management plans that would have to be changed under such a scheme. The idea that you could offer a compromise that includes greater hunting rights in exchange for gun control is frankly an ignorant suggestion that could only be written by someone who has no idea how hunting actually works in this country.

MichaelKeefer
MichaelKeefer

So do you think the criminals will had in there High capacity / assault guns when the law abiding citizen are forced to  hands in theirs ? Gee I hope so.....I sure the Criminals wanna do whats right.....right!!

GregWoolhouse
GregWoolhouse

Folks on the left live in the world of unicorns and rainbows.  There are very, very few "moderate gun owners".  I know hundreds of gun owners, and pretty much all of them are Second Amendment absolutists.  The Second Amendment is NOT about hunting or sport-shooting.  People not afraid of guns understand this.  There will be no "compromise".  I wish you people had the nads to admit what you really want - no guns in private hands - instead of this sneaking, skulking incrementalism.  Have the courage of your convictions.

The left believes in safety through universal weakness.  The Second Amendment community believes in safety through universal strength.  Let's have that debate.

eyeswideopeninus
eyeswideopeninus

How about a Wrongful Death Tax on gun manufacturers? Set up a tax with an exponential scale based on the number of unlawful killings made each year by each particular type of gun. Perhaps have different scale for different types of guns based on the design purpose of the type. For example, non-repeating hunting rifles might have the lowest and slowest increasing scale and semi-automatic assault rifles and large magazines a much higher and steeper one.

The tax revenue would be good for the country, whether it was targeted to specific violence-related programs or unrestricted. The statistical predictability of the likely tax would provide specific financial incentives for the gun manufacturers to invest a portion of their revenue to decrease the illegal uses of their products. It would justly place a portion of the financial impact (real cost) of illegal gun use directly on those who first profit from their manufacture and sale.

mwacky4u
mwacky4u

Guns are neither good nor bad. Those who oppose guns do not understand them. It is natural to fear what is not understood. The safe and proficient handling of a weapon is a martial art. One cannot master a martial without discipline. One cannot master it without learning self-deference, respect and control. Three years ago, I knew nothing of guns--and I opposed them. I disliked those who owned them. But I took the time to learn my enemy. I attended a gun training class. I bought a gun. I learned to shoot it. In the process, I learned a tremendous amount about myself. I know to avoid conflict whenever possible, I know to respect the views of those whom I do not understand. I am a better citizen today, and society is better off, because I was able to gain invaluable experience. As more citizens learn the discipline to practice a martial art, civility and our nation will inevitably flourish.

dfusss1982
dfusss1982

Gun control means being able to hit what you're shooting at...  What these politician are talking about is treating every citizen as a criminal, with malicious intent, and further limiting the individual's right to defend his/her home, property, and body.  Furthermore, the "assault weapons" ban is idiotic on it's face, since it deals mostly with cosmetic issues.  Take any .22 rifle and put a retractable butt-stock on it and it becomes illegal.  That's asinine.

If you want a proper prospective on "gun control" consider this:  A large majority of gun crime is committed by urban youths, who happen to be African American...  so it would be logical then to make it unlawful for African Americans to own firearms.  Do you have a problem with that?  If so, ask yourself why. 

Marusik
Marusik

"....These could include the top items on the gun-control agenda: the assault-weapons ban, tougher background checks on gun purchasers, and stricter penalties for “straw purchasers” who illegally buy guns for people who should not have them."

What about closing the loopholes at gun shows where guns change hands almost like toys in a children's store?...

And, speaking of compromise, wouldn't be reasonable to make any ban on assault-weapons retroactive?  Especially considering the usual spikes in gun sales in anticipation to a new ban, not to mention the already outrageous number of guns in people's hands...   

SunLite
SunLite

Y ou are already on some government martial law list. Accept it and plan accordingly. I think it is important to restate and clarify something. The reason this is on my mind is a conversation I had with a young ex-military vet yesterday who is fully aware of the FEMA concentration camps, and how the military has created a new MOS (military occupation specialty) for those who will round up Americans to send to the camps. He was still skeptical that American troops would fire on Americans. However, American history has hundreds of incidents throughout our history from the beginning of this country: the Whiskey Rebellion; and then continuing thru the entire history of this nation: the Ludlow massacre, the destruction of the protesting demobilized Vet’s village in Washington D.C. after WW I, and many other incidents which consistently prove that American troops have always followed orders and fired on civilian Americans. Even the National Guard did at Kent State. When IBP went on strike in 1979, the National Guard using armored personnel carriers with .50 machine guns under Reagon’s policy to break the unions, shot and killed strikers. How short is our memory? The numerous lists of Americans are made up in detail. They have made an indepth study of everyone and how they think. Numerous eyewitnesses to these lists have talked to me about them. Do not think you are exempt. You are on a list of some kind. We are collectively at the point that people in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia were at when their governments began incarcerating and eliminating their own people. Most people do not realize that 100% of the Amish in Nazi Germany were eliminated. You will search in vain for any descendants of the Amish in Germany. Think about these things, and if you are in denial, then come out of your denial, unless you want to simply and passively go with the flow, which is what most people did in Germany and Russia, and what the Powers-That-Should-Not-Be are counting on again. And the police? When I was falsely arrested in 1995, and tried to maintain my Constitutional rights, the police mocked me for believing in the Constitution. It was very obvious that the Constitution meant nothing to them!!! That may shock people, but I have heard via elderly police that the disdain for the Constitution and law is even worse than then with the new police recruits. Nazi Germany had plenty of mindless storm troopers willing to serve tyranny. History repeats itself.

desertscar
desertscar

Automatic weapons were not around when the the Constitution was written. Clearly we have already restricted the "right to bear arms". We don't let individuals own their own nuclear arms no matter their wealth or technology (as well as chemical and many conventional weapons our military has). Thus I think a reasonable interpretation to the limits are access to arms relatively consistent with those available tocitizens in the 17th century, though I am fine with access to with more powerful hunting rifles. 3 bullet magazine seems about right too--enough to dissuade a potential assailant.

Start the "Hunters Rights and Safe America Bill" Today. Start with the premise above plus ensure more access to fishing and hunting on federal land. Most reasonable people win. 

SunLite
SunLite

- It was initially reported that Adam Lanza’s mother, the first victim of the rampage, was a teacher at the school, which was not true.- It was initially reported that Lanza had also killed his father, which was not true.- It was initially reported that the culprit behind the massacre was Ryan Lanza, Adam Lanza’s brother, which was not true.- Initial reports that a “second gunman” arrested in the woods behind the school was involved in the massacre were later dropped without explanation.Given that most of the “misinformation” about the shooting came from corporate media sources, the fact that Facebook is punishing users for asking questions about the proper sequence of events – essentially labeling such activity a thought crime – is a worrying development.

SunLite
SunLite

LETS ALSO COMPLETELY IGNORE THAT JAMES HOLMES INMATE WAS INTERVIEWED AND SAID  :James Holmes Told Me He Was ‘Programmed’ To Kill by “Evil” Therapist,,, Yea notice how the more we argue about gun control the more mass shootings occur ...dosnt that seem to be feeding the idea WAKE UP PEOPLE

SunLite
SunLite

@tarmorplus@gmail.com  yea no,, lets just ignore the fact that both shooters both have dads involved in the LIBOR SCANDAL adam lanzas dad a vice president at GE Capital and had been a partner at global accounting giant Ernst & Young.The father of Newtown Connecticut school shooter Adam Lanza is Peter Lanza who is a VP and Tax Director at GE Financial. The father of Aurora Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes is Robert Holmes, the lead scientist for the credit score company FICO. Both men were to testify before the US Sentate in the ongoing LIBOR scandal. The London Interbank Offered Rate, known as Libor, is the average interest rate at which banks can borrow from each other. 16 international banks have been implicated in this ongoing scandal, accused of rigging contracts worth trillions of dollars. HSBC has already been fined $1.9 billion and three of their low level traders arrested.YEA LETS JUST IGNORE THOSE FACTS....LETS JUST SIT IN THE COUCH AND WATCH JEARSY SHORE WHILE YOU GET CHEESEBURGERS DONT YOU LOVE AMERICA?

CB_Demented
CB_Demented

Since only one person has taken a sincere stab at defining what an "assault weapon" is, I thought I'd post the Federal Government's definition.

The defined weapons are semiautomatic rifles that accept detachable magazines and have at least TWO out of fivefeatures: 

1) a folding or telescoping stock, 2) a pistol grip, 3) a bayonet mount, 4) a grenade launcher, and 5) a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor.

 Now...just so everyone is clear, Connecticut has a state Assault Weapons ban that follows the federal guideline. And had the assault weapon ban still been in place, and assault weapons were still legally banned throughout the country, the configuration of the rifle used by Lanza, which his mother legally purchased and possessed in Connecticut, was not covered by that definition. She still would have been able to purchase it, as it isn't defined as an assault weapon. The only feature the rifle had that is on that list is a pistol grip.

Therefore, the ban would have made zero difference.

CB_Demented
CB_Demented

Chicago is the poster child for gun control, yet since 2001, 2,000 troops have died in Afghanistan while 5,000 people have been murdered in Chicago. 

Chicago’s homicide rate is four times greater than New York, and twice that of Los Angeles. Good intentions have yielded bad results inChicago, and it’s time to face the facts: Criminals and psychotic individuals don’t obey “no guns” signs or gun control laws.