Viewpoint: Real Gun Reform Doesn’t Come from the Capitol

Lasting change in norms comes from civic action, not from a law "preventing" the next Sandy Hook

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It’s now been a month and a day since the massacre at Sandy Hook. To those who favor a broad agenda of gun reform and responsibility — I am actively one of them — a month seems a long time. Reformers worry that the passage of time is the enemy of reform. The NRA is betting on it.

But as Vice President Joe Biden today delivers the recommendations of his gun-violence task force to President Obama and as the press prepares for an epic confrontation in Congress, we are probably paying attention to the wrong arena. Whatever policy changes are proposed in this legislative session, citizens in local communities will be the drivers of change in our culture, and that change will take place over years, even decades, not with the stroke of a pen.

(MORE: One Month After, Newtown Deals with the Physical Reminders of the Massacre)

History shows that creative civic action often defines or expands the frame of the possible in policymaking. Consider the early civil rights movement, from sit-ins at lunch counters to the Freedom Riders. It took the coordinated, patient actions of lawyers, activists and everyday Americans to challenge the values of Jim Crow for years before politicians found the courage to dismantle the legal structures of Jim Crow. A century before that, abolitionists weren’t content to thunder from the pulpit; they pioneered all manner of organizing tactics and novel uses of print and song and “social media.”

In our own time, consider the movement against drunk driving and the emergence of the designated driver as a lasting social and cultural phenomenon, which in turn prompted and reinforced tougher laws and law enforcement. Sometimes, citizen activists and policymakers can be symbiotic partners in changing norms. This has been the case with smoking, where pressure from legislators, lawyers, everyday Americans and the media not only altered how cigarettes are made and sold but also made smoking seem fundamentally less appealing.

The epidemic of gun violence in America demands this kind of citizen-led movement. Sandy Hook revealed a collapse of responsibility. Yes, personal responsibility, since every gun killing involves a killer who is personally responsible. But mainly collective responsibility — for how guns are made, marketed, sold and circulated. Creating a stronger social ethic of responsibility means creating new coalitions of parents, faith leaders, teachers, neighbors, cops, small-business people — and not just to lobby for a particular law but to ask a simple question: How will you be more responsible for reducing gun violence?

(MORE: Adam Cohen: Why Is Congress Protecting the Gun Industry?)

When tens of millions of citizens begin wrestling with that question in a sustained way, hundreds of Congressmen will eventually change their tune. A lasting shift of norms on guns will be the result only of a diverse, cross-partisan campaign of relentless persuasion that starts from the bottom up, in our cities and towns.

That means listening to gun owners and recognizing that they are not monolithic. In fact, great numbers support reform. It requires a strategic effort to isolate and shame the most intransigent, irresponsible status-quo defenders. And it means making a case for reform that isn’t about “preventing” the next Sandy Hook: no law can absolutely prevent a disturbed person from killing innocents. The point is to lower the odds that such acts occur and to reduce the scale of bloodshed if they do.

There’s a proverb that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago; the next best time is today. So it is with planting the seeds for reform. It shouldn’t take 20 years to get laws for more responsible gun ownership, commerce and use. But they won’t sprout overnight either. And if we want reform to endure, that’s all right — as long as we the people are doing the work of planting.

MORE: Andrew J. Rotherham: A Sportsman’s View: We Need a Moderate Alternative to the NRA


I believe these thoughts to be true but depressing at the same time.  Here we are in 2015 after the Oregon shooting and nothing has changed.  While it takes a movement by the people, much like MADD instigated with drunk driving, NRA is a STRONG shaper of attitudes, keeping fear in the minds of gun nuts.  I just don't know what catalyst can overcome that stronghold on American minds.


It is sad to hear NRA's supporters voicing their ridiculous and illogical argements agianst gun control.

They said that the proposed measures will not really solve the proplem, and the protection of children should not be done at the expense of  the right to own guns, and increaed financial burden,  but they failed to realize that the new gun laws will curb gun violence, even though they cannot totally eliminate it, and that tthe stricter gun laws do not take away people's right to bear arms, and it is the American government's political duty and moral obligation to protect the safety and security of all citizens, including children.

They argued that background check, ammunition limits and assault weapows ban are infringing their rights under the Second Amendment, and that gun is not the root of violence problem, but the failed to admit that the proposed new laws and measures do not violate the Seocond Amendmen, but will make the gun oowners to be legally surpervised and socially reponsible in using guns, and that gun is a dangerous accomplice to violence, even though it does not itself cause violence.

The supporters of NRA should take the trouble to look around the world--to see why so many countries are practicing strict gun laws,

The NRA may not be "venal" in opposing new gun laws, but it is definitely religiously unacceptable and socially irresponsible.


I plead with Americans to remove politics and vested interests from their consideration of gun control (“The next great American gun fight, TIME 28 Jan 2013 pp 20-33); and to exert common sense.

Ask yourself, is it reasonable for there to be 310m firearms floating around US society; that there were some 30,000+ fatal shootings in 2011; and that 49% of households own a gun? Or that since the Sandy Hook massacre another 926 people have been shot dead?

Common sense – not politics or profit – demands that firearms are progressively banned. Arm the population and people kill each other.

Is that really what those who drafted the constitution intended in 1787: the right to bear arms to kill fellow citizens? And for the 79% (246m) American Christians the bible is clear: thou shalt not kill; or Matthew 5:39 – “if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also”…..not shoot him.


Regarding the gunfighters article, I wonder if there was an error. It said that the AR 15 shoots 45 rounds in one minute. For this shooter to put 11 bullets in one child and an average of 5 -6 per child times 20 children - the math doesn't add up. It means he would have have to take a full 15 seconds just shooting at one child (the one with 11 bullets). I hope somebody could check into that fact.












The opinion of American's and their firearms will not change for generations... If anything you will find more Americans wishing for greater and greater firepower... 

The Gun lobby is fooling itself if it thing it can really change things.


Let's put the facts out there first.  

How many public schools are there in the United States?  

There is approximately 100,000 public schools per  Based on these statistics, there is roughly 36,500,000 opportunities for school shootings to occur in any given year.  Keep in mind, these are just public schools, which does not include private schools and post-secondary education.  

There were 10 school shootings in 2012, with a total of 41 deaths based on  

This would mean that on any given day if you attend a public school, you have a 2.74e-5 or 0.0000274 % chance of being shot in a public school.  Wow, those odds sound pretty good to me considering public schools already do so much for your average working parent.  

They essentially provide you with daycare from 8AM to 3PM, education, subsidized food, transportation, and more daycare (after school curricular activities) for your children if you need it.  We also have to have our government guarantee 100% safety from all threats.  Sounds like a real challenge to me...  

All the while, the parent's solution for these tragedies is a simple and disconnected reality of gun reform and legislation.  It sounds like government has assumed 100% of the responsibility in terms of the way we discuss these events.  I agree with many who have posted here who say that the responsibility should be local and start within our own communities.

This is why I ask the question.  Why do we have to send our kids to centralized locations to learn?  Why could we not have our kids connect with schools from home?  Is our technology not good enough to have kids learn from home and not have to deal with the daily popularity contests and bullying that without a doubt exists and is ignored in public schools?  

If we cannot bring the kids out of schools to learn into the safest environment we know, our homes.  Then we have to start looking at solutions that make sense and can help this country out as a whole.  In order to bring kids out of schools so they can learn at home, what would it take?  

I would say reliable AND cheap internet connection is the most important.  This would mean we would have to upgrade our infrastructure, which needs to happen now.  This would also create much needed jobs in this country.  Why are we not talking about this?...  

It is because we all want the simple, disconnected solution where we as individuals assume zero responsibility, and let the government take care of everything...pass laws in sacrifice for your freedom.  

Have a blessed day.


"Congress shall make no law…" The Second amendment is very clear and was not written to be open to interpretation. That being said I think this article is spot on. There were approximately 12,000 murders involving guns in 2011 and approximately 70 to 80 Million gun owners. If every one of those murders were legal gun owners (they weren't) that would mean that .00001% of gun owners commit murders (12,000 / 70,000,000) with guns. Bans and magazine capacity changes are only going to affect the 99.9999% of law abiding citizens (who have every legal make of firearm and magazine size right now) and do nothing to stop criminals. I want to stop the wrong people from getting guns; these steps do nothing to do that. More in depth background checks and requiring FFLs for universal transfers at least focuses on the PEOPLE, which is where the problems lie. In support of Mr. Liu's article, there are things we as gun owners can do to help in " reducing gun violence" like making sure our guns are securely stored when they are out of our direct control and supporting gun safety programs and firearms education.


I can agree with the writer on one main point. Gun control will start in the home and local level. I firmly believe that gun control starts in the home not in congress. The vast majority of these shootings would have been prevented if the gun owners had better protection for their guns and provided better education to their children about responsible use, and ways to keep guns away from them if they're not mature or stable enough. The gov't can make whatever screwball, kneejerk measures they want, but they will yield the same results they always have, nothing. Like I said, gun control belongs in the home. 


It is true that historically it took a long period of time and the painful struggles of people-movement to kill unfair and unjust laws in the United States.  It would be a shame if it needs more time and civic actions to effect strict gun regulations in modern America. Gun control is not a racial or civil rights issue. Nor is it a constitutional issue. It is simply the gun-business interets against the safety and security of the American society.

The NRA's arguments against gun control are constitutionally misleading and socially irresponsible. The Republicans who are under the influence or control of the NRA are morally irresponsible and politically hyporitical.  Personal selfishness and political expediency have lowered the quality of Ameican politics so much, as far as gun control is concerned.  It is time that the Ameican people take immediate actions to do something about it.

American voters should take the trouble to write a letter to their Congressional representatives, demanding support for sricter gun laws.  This may prove to be an effective--and patriotic-- way of doing someting right for America. Or let President Barack issue an Excutive Order.


Mental Health is the problem.  Funding has been drastically cut in the past few years and look what has happened.  That is what needs reform and money, not gun laws.  Look at it this way.  Did prohibition of alcohol work, no.  Has the prohibition against Marijuana worked, no.  If anything people will resort to more menacing forms of attack such as bombs ( a simple search of the internet yeilds scary restults)  because now they can't get their hands on guns.  Not to mention the black market for guns is going to see a boost and another problem will be created.  The current reaction is a knee jerk reaction by politicians because people view guns as the problem and not people.  The real problem is mental health and no one wants to pay for that because it costs money.  Well how much is just one human life worth? In my opinion it is invaluable and a price cannot be put on it.  Yet politicians go after the wrong thing because the term is trending and it will guarantee them their position because people think they are safer now, well in reality they are less safe because guns will become taboo and go underground, which is impossible to regulate.


The problem with actually institution any kind of reform, social consciousness raising or activism is the second amendment.  As long as it remains unaltered, those "intransigent, irresponsible status-quo defenders" can always get the status quo back.

But there is a way to deal with the situation through social pressure without REPEALING the second amendment (which, frankly, I would not see as a bad thing).  The problem is that "arms" as known in the 1780's were a hell of a lot different than the ":arms" known today.  "Arms", as used in the second amendment, is not explicitly defined.  One COULD argue, from a constitutional basis, that they are entitled to privately own nukes, because they're "arms".  I imagine most people would be against that and we don't allow it.  But because they're "arms" and yet NOT allowed because of their level of destruction, arms control due to the destructiveness of the "arms" is sound in principle.

We're just haggling over price.  

At what point do you draw the line?  It would seem the "intransigent, irresponsible status-quo defenders" believe anything you can carry should be legal for a private citizen to own so they can protect themselves.  We've seen how well that works out.  The implication they use is that the must have their weapons to "keep the government in line".  We ARE talking about a government which has a "button", guys.  IF the government goes over the top, they're not going to scruple to keeping it to a conventional warfare.  And even if nukes are left out of it, the little popguns civilians own - GREAT for mowing down civilians - are laughably obsolete against any modern military.  I could go on about this (and did in my blog), but the point is, keeping the government in line isn't something they can do with ANY legally obtained weapon regardless of numbers. So we're left with personal protection, sporting and hunting.

I don't see more than one shot at a time being needed in ANY of these, assuming a gun owner is responsible, learns how to use their weapon and, above all, can AIM.  Certainly, no one needs to "spray and pray" for any of them.  It doesn't matter how many rounds you put downrange if none of them actually hit the target.  But modern firearms don't encourage accuracy.  Merely the ability to pull the trigger a lot and carry a lot of bullets.  Great for ammunition sellers and Dirty Harry wannabes.  Not so great in real life or for society, or, for that matter, the person doing the shooting.

They often don't hit their targets because they can't aim.  So they choose a place with a lot of targets and hope they will hit something.

Again, if you can only fire one shot at a time - with a long reload period between shots giving people time to escape, or shoot you if you're shooting at them - it covers all of the sport and hunting needs of the American public.  And, believe it or not, there IS a type of firearm that does that.

MUZZLE-LOADERS.  You know, the "arms" the founding fathers actually had in mind.

What we need it a constitutional amendment that draws the line between what is reasonable and what is too destructive and spells it out in explicit terms, leaving the wording of the second amendment intact but clarifying what "arms" can really be kept and borne.  It would be a simple amendment saying, "Effective immediately, "arms" as used in the Second Amendment shall be defined as any muzzle-loaded fire-arm consisting of no more than two barrels capable of a rate of fire of no more than four shots per minute."  Yes, a double-barreled weapon could shoot two rounds one right after the other, but it takes 15-20 seconds to reload each of them.  Do the math.

This kind of definition would clear the way to regulation - or outright bans - on ALL OTHER FIREARMS.  You can open carry a one shot weapon all you want.  Be Captain Jack Sparrow, for all I care.  It addresses every single legal, legitimate argument for gun ownership and has no rational, or reasonable, rebuttal.  The firearm itself DEMANDS a skillful user, meaning they'd have to be more knowledgeable about its safe and effective use, which makes for a better gun owner.  They'd also be much safer around the house because the bullet is broken down into it's three main parts (round, powder, primer).  Modern muzzle-loaders are also far more accurate than what was available in the 1780's - out to 500 yards or more - meaning sport shooting and hunting would still be as challenging as it should be.

I laid it all out on my blog not too long ago.

But until we deal with the second amendment, the "intransigent, irresponsible status-quo defenders" have a legal leg to stand on - even if that leg is completely irrational.  Maybe social consciousness can be raised to demand this since it isn't as drastic as repealing the second amendment and still allows people to keep and bear "arms".


I support legislation that will outlaw assault weapons, make high capacity magazines that can hold dozens of bullets illegal, and will make extensive background mandatory everywhere a gun is sold or traded mandatory. However, we cannot assume this is all we need to do to stop the murders of innocent people.

The person who murdered John Lennon, attempted the assassination of Ronald Reagan, and the persons who murdered innocent men, women, and children in movie theaters, shopping malls, Virginia Tech University, Columbine, Sandy Hook, and at Gabrielle Giffords meeting with her constituents were all mentally ill individuals and we need to do something to address the ticking time bombs that are among us.

If medical professionals evaluate someone and deem them a danger to others they must receive treatment at an inhouse facility before they are allowed out in the community, no matter how strict our gun control laws become. We cannot pass stricter gun laws and go to sleep thinking the problem has been solved. There are severely disturbed individuals who attend our schools, work at our companies, and who shop and attend the same movie theaters, shopping malls, and supermarkets that we do. Those who qualified professionals believe are a danger to their community cannot simply be given a pill and thought to be under control. They must be remanded to a facility so they can receive the care they need. To ignore the ticking time bombs among us is flirting with more tragedies.


In 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.

Of the 1,210 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2010, 211 (17%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.

Of the 211 child passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2010, over half (131) were riding in the vehicle with the alcohol-impaired driver.

In 2010, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. That's one percent of the 112 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year.

Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths. These other drugs are often used in combination with alcohol.

So where are all the people crying about banning alcohol? There is not a Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing our right to alcohol. Look people, it's about personal responsibility. If you know somebody is a danger to themselves or society because of a mental illness and you do nothing you are just as guilty. This entire country needs to grow up, put on your big girl panties, stop blaming everyone else, stop getting your feelings hurt so easily, massaging each others egos. We need state run mental institutions reinstated all over the country. With the help of courts and social workers and family members we need to be able to put dangerous mentally ill people in an institution. Putting hundreds or thousands of lives at risk so one mentally ill person can wander the streets is stupid. There are a lot of things that kill people and the idea that banning guns will stop a deranged lunatic from going out in a blaze of glory is seriously diluted thinking. Not all of us pro gun people are tea party nut cases. This constant bickering about everyone's different interpretation of the Second Amendment needs to stop, it's already been upheld by the Supreme Court. Banning guns is not the answer, and it's totally pointless unless you plan to confiscate the hundreds of millions of guns already out there in which case like or not there will be an uprising. If you think the whole of the military will follow the orders to kill their families, neighbors, teachers, children, pastors, coworkers and destroy their own cities and towns you are sadly mistaken. And what would our beloved government gain by destroying their own infrastructure, highways, bridges and cities as well as slaughtering millions of patriotic Americans? So they can be left with the sniveling liberals and welfare babies? Good luck with that.


If we want to "lower the odds that such acts occur and to reduce the scale of bloodshed if they do," then we need to ensure that the measures we propose pass the Adam Lanza test: would they have stopped Adam Lanza, or the Columbine shooters, or similar attacks?

We're hearing a great deal about gun control measures that don't pass that test. The reason is simple: it's very hard to stop someone who is willling to die in order to do what they mean to do. Most of what we are hearing about, such as background checks, magazine capacity limits, ugly-gun bans, and so forth do not pass the Adam Lanza test.

We aren't hearing about measures that might actually help. 

We aren't hearing about making our schools more secure, both in physical terms--better structures with features that help people inside to protect themselves - and in terms of security staff. It's odd to find the NRA and the government of the People's Republic of China on the same side of any issue, but in fact the PRC recently launched a mandate that will place security staff in every single elementary and middle school in their nation. They're not doing that in response to our problems, but in response to their own; they've had a wave of knife attacks in schools. While the Chinese are taking concrete action, we're busy counting pennies and deciding we don't have enough pennies to protect our schoolchildren.

We aren't hearing about making a well-funded, concerted effort to discover how to recognize and effectively help people who are falling into an abyss of mental illness that leads them to violence. In several recent rampage killings, the killer was known to have verbalized his ideas and intentions, including actually seeking help, and meeting with no response.

Last but not least, no one is talking enough about looking at our own faces in the mirror. How much violence do we consume in our popular culture? How many violent deaths occur nightly on prime-time TV? The other day, while Jon Stewart was devoting his program to gun control, the advertising that supports his show featured three different violent movies; by my quick count, at least half-a-dozen character died violently in about two minutes of advertising. Oh, no, we'd rather not face the truth about ourselves - that we are a violent people and need to change. That's much, much too disturbing. Instead, let's do what Americans so often do - let's focus on the hardware.

Fundamentally, we need to grow up. Nobody's talking about that.


The founding fathers could not have anticipated the advance in gun technology. But they could predict the overwhelming desire of the government to subjugate it's citizens; which is so much easier if they are not armed. Thus the 2nd amendment.


If you don't care about the 2nd Amendment, you don't deserve the 1st. All anti-gun media outlets should be razed to the ground.