In the days following the shooting, Americans demanded action. The United States is awash in firearms. Among industrialized nations, the United States is a leader in gun ownership as well as gun violence. The people spoke up, demanding that our elected leaders crack down on the easy availability of military-style assault weapons.
The findings of a Pew Research Center poll from earlier this year tell the tale:
• 85 percent favor background checks for private and gun-show sales.
• 80 percent favor preventing the mentally ill from purchasing firearms.
• 67 percent want a federal database to track U.S. gun sales.
• 58 percent want a ban on semi-automatic weapons.
• 55 percent want a ban on assault weapons.
• 54 percent want a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips.
• 53 percent favor a ban on online sales of ammunition.
What’s more, these polling trends have mostly held through February. Clearly, a majority of Americans are tired of the bloodshed and want their government to do more to protect them, including placing limits on who can purchase firearms and the types of weapons they can buy.
In the first days following the Newtown massacre, gun-rights advocates such as the National Rifle Association stayed mostly silent, which was probably the wisest course. Over the decades, the NRA has done a masterful job at two tasks: (a.) shifting the conversation away from the nation’s lax gun laws and (b.) accumulating politicians like chess pieces who can muster to block almost any gun-control legislation.
As wise as the NRA’s silence strategy was, it hasn’t worked as well as in previous mass shootings that agitated the public for a brief time. As the polling indicates, Americans’ desire to see common-sense gun control implemented hasn’t cooled with the passage of time. They want action from lawmakers.
Thus far, the NRA’s firewall of protection has come from a roster of lawmakers on the gun lobby’s payroll. They’ll do what they can to keep gun-control legislation from seeing the light of day, and in the process setting themselves in opposition to the wishes of an overwhelming majority of the public.
“America has changed on this issue,” Vice President Joe Biden said last week. “There is a moral price to be paid for inaction.”
While the signs are promising that Biden is correct, we won’t know for sure until another month or so.