According to Bloomberg News, “Republicans…more often side with gun-rights advocates than Democrats.” However, I don’t see gun laws as a Republican or Democrat issue. I see it as an issue of what is best for the long-term health of this country, both in terms of public health and social well-being.
Bullets don’t care what your politics are. Being Republican doesn’t make you bullet-proof. James Brady wasn’t, nor was Ronald Reagan. Republicans revere Reagan but seem to have forgotten that he was a victim of handgun violence. Regardless of how Republicans feel about the “insignificant” lives lost to guns (an average of 33 per day, by some estimates), wouldn’t that fact alone make it reasonable to place some restrictions on gun ownership?
In fact, the now-expired assault weapons ban was enacted in 1994 with the explicit support of President Reagan. And an extension of the ban was supported in 2003 by President George W. Bush. (”The president makes decisions based on what he believes is the right policy for Americans.”)
I don’t see how being Republican automatically makes you gun-friendly. More specifically, I don’t see why Republicans feel that their political livelihoods depend on maintaining the right for every kook to own a firearm. If a Republican were staring down the barrel of a Glock 9mm or AR-15 assault rifle, I can’t imagine he is going to say “I’m happy to see that you are putting your legally-obtained gun to good use.” No, he’s going to say “Oh God no!!!” just like anybody else. And if he survived, he’d start looking for a workable solution. Any reasonable human being would.
I suspect it has something to do with members of Congress seeing the issue in the abstract terms of Constitutional rights and not as a public health crisis. I also suspect it is related to the faulty logic of the gun lobby in combination with a lack of information for the average voter.
It has been one month since the Newtown Massacre. What would Ronald Reagan say?
I will have more thoughts on this in the coming weeks.
Update: A strong quote from Reagan in favor of banning assault weapons has been provided by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign. Since this quote dates from after Reagan’s presidency, it is not part of the official Reagan archives, so I cannot verify it’s authenticity. I like it, though.