(Via Wikipedia)

The Economist makes the gun debate look absurd

The British publication says only drastic change in the law would make a difference

Alex Halperin
December 23, 2012 11:20PM (UTC)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein has an F rating from the NRA. It makes you wonder what the NRA would rate a politician who proposed an assault weapons bill that doesn’t protect gun owners by “exempting more than 900 specific hunting and sporting weapons.” For a rough comparison, try to imagine if staunchly pro-life Senators favored federally financed abortions on demand during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Feinstein has not released all of her proposed bill’s specifics but in her short, remarkable press release it appears closely modeled on the federal assault weapons ban that was in effect from 1994 until 2004. Feinstein finds “A Justice Department study found the Assault Weapons Ban was responsible for a 6.7 percent decline in total gun murders. However, since the 2004 expiration of the bill, assault weapons have been used in at least 459 incidents, resulting in 385 deaths and 455 injuries.” In other words, after a national trauma that supposedly changed the debate, an anti-gun Senator can only argue for a bill that might reduce gun murders by 6.7 percent.


In this context it’s useful to read this paragraph from The Economist about what real change in gun regulation would look like. The London-based publication is not known for extremism, but in the context of the American gun debate it qualifies as a wild-eyed, foil hatted fanatic:

If Americans want a society where schools do not, as the one in Newtown did, have to drill their children in emergency lock-down procedures, more drastic measures should be contemplated. Handgun bans, such as those that operated in Chicago and Washington, DC, before the Supreme Court struck them down, would be needed on a national scale. Gun licences, obtainable only after extensive police and medical review as in most other civilised countries, would be needed for hunting and sporting weapons. Tough police action, coupled with an extensive “buy-back” programme, would be needed to mop up the hundreds of millions of guns that are already held. If, as seems probable, this is held to conflict with the constitution, then the constitution needs to be amended.

Alex Halperin

Alex Halperin is news editor at Salon. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhalperin.

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Abortion Conservatism Dianne Feinstein Gun Control Sen. Dianne Feinstein The Economist

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