The editorial boards of the Washington Post, The New York Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle highlighted the ease with which dangerous people can access guns in America and called for new legislation limiting this access in the wake of the mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood health center in Colorado.
Gunman Attacks Colorado Planned Parenthood Health Center
NBCNews.com: Gunman “Burst” Into Planned Parenthood Health Center, Killing Three. A gunman burst into a Planned Parenthood health center on November 27, “armed with an AK-47-style weapon” and opened fire killing three people and wounding nine others before surrendering after a five-hour standoff. From NBC News:
A gunman armed with an AK-47-style weapon burst into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs Friday, shooting at police from inside the building during the ensuing five-hour standoff.
Three people, including a police officer, died during the incident, Colorado Springs Police Department Lt. Catherine Buckley said. Nine others, including five officers, were wounded. All nine were in good condition, Buckley said. [NBCNews.com, 11/28/15]
Editorial Boards Of Major Newspapers Decry Easy Gun Access For Dangerous People
Washington Post: “Access To Guns” Is Common Factor To “Every Terrible Case Of Gun Violence.” In a November 30 editorial, the Washington Post explained that “The one factor common to every terrible case of gun violence is access to guns.” The Post called on leaders to address the “senseless availability” of weapons.
The 57-year-old man charged in the murderous shooting spree at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado allegedly made remarks to police about “no more baby parts.” That has led some to speculate that antiabortion rhetoric sparked the rampage. The suspect's history of aberrant behavior prompted others to theorize that mental illness was the culprit. In the early stages of the investigation, we don't know what, if any, role was played by either of these factors. In the meantime it is worth restating the obvious: The one factor common to every terrible case of gun violence is access to guns.
Nearly 300 people are shot every day in the United States in murders, assaults, attempted and successful suicides and unintentional shootings. The numbers are so appalling that they become numbing. Easy access to guns is a major threat to U.S. public health. It is also such a political challenge that the natural inclination is to move on to other topics: mental-health care, incendiary rhetoric, violent video games. We do not dismiss the importance of any of those. But we also believe the country should not lose focus on what makes us unique in the world: the senseless availability of, as President Obama referred to them, “weapons of war.” [Washington Post, 11/30/15]
The New York Times: “Virtually Unimpeded Access To Guns” Makes “Massacre Of The Innocent” Possible. On November 30, the editorial board of The New York Times wrote that “unimpeded access to guns” is the common denominator that allows killers to “massacre” the innocent. The Times urged politicians to pass reforms that could curtail access to guns by people who shouldn't have them, such as “universal background checks; expanding the categories of people deemed too dangerous to have guns; funding research into gun violence; and gun buyback programs” :
Here's a thought for lawmakers who refuse to consider any meaningful legislation to reduce the daily carnage of gun violence across America: Thanks to your single-minded defense of unfettered gun rights at the expense of all reason and respect for life, there is an endless supply of children to be consoled. The other two victims of Friday's assault -- Garrett Swasey, a police officer, and Ke'Arre Stewart, an Iraq war veteran -- also each had two children.
But rather than taking action to address the full measure of destruction America's gun violence inflicts, many politicians appear more comfortable offering rote words of shallow sympathy to the victims' families, then jumping quickly behind distractions like the state of mental-health care in America. Was Robert L. Dear Jr., the suspect in last week's shooting, mentally ill? Did he oppose abortion? Or was he just extremely angry?
The truth is, the characteristics of killers may vary, but the result is always the same -- a massacre of the innocent, made possible by virtually unimpeded access to guns. Mr. Dear had several run-ins with the law and still had plenty of weapons at hand.
Countries from Australia to Britain have dealt with mass shootings quickly and effectively with better laws. As a result, more of their residents are alive today, and none of those laws have created the tyrannies that fuel the paranoid fantasies of some activists.
Even in America, where the Second Amendment provides robust protection of gun rights, there are reforms that modestly brave politicians could pass if they wanted to, including universal background checks; expanding the categories of people deemed too dangerous to have guns; funding research into gun violence; and gun buyback programs.
Instead, the rhetoric on this issue swerves between the irrational and the deranged.
Meanwhile, the killings go on. More than once a day on average this year, mass shootings have destroyed lives and families. [The New York Times, 11/30/15]
San Francisco Chronicle Called Out The “Cowardice” Of Politicians Who Refuse To Act On Gun Violence. In a November 30 editorial, the San Francisco Chronicle called on Congress act on the “sensible proposals” that could limit access to weapons by dangerous people (emphasis added):
Gun rampages have sadly become such a regular feature of American life this decade that the fast retreat of politicians from the salient issues of gun control and safe access to abortion will surprise few voters. (Though the worst timing award may go to Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who wrote in a Nov. 30 opinion piece that “Liberals like Hillary Clinton always hold up gun control as a panacea to crime.” )
Our leaders need to do better, for both the victims of Colorado Springs and the public health of this country.
It's also long past time for public officials to get serious about gun control.
Colorado's Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper, signed gun control restrictions after the Aurora movie theater massacre in 2012. Though the gun limits cost his party some political capital -- a Democratic legislator in Colorado Springs was recalled -- it was the right, and responsible, thing to do.
Unfortunately, all too few politicians have followed Hickenlooper's example.
But how long can the country afford to allow any angry citizen the chance to kill large numbers of people, simply because he has a grievance?
Congress knows that there are plenty of sensible proposals to increase background checks on gun buyers and limit possession of assault weaponry.
The cowardice is maddening, and the threat of this distinctly American brand of terrorism -- mass shootings -- is not going away. [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30/15]