There are partisans on both sides of the gun control screaming match that rely on hyperbolic rhetoric to rouse their donors. To pick an example seemingly at random, people like Hillary Clinton will prefer to pander rather than lead.
However, I am feeling a mad surge of optimism today. From the right, let me single out Dan McLaughlin as a hard-headed righty who is surely not a reflexive gun grabber yet seems to be fed up with the current non-debate (OK, that may be me projecting...). A snippet:
There are only easy answers if you are willing to sacrifice rights you don't care about, and that other people do. That's never been a solution Americans could pursue without embarrassment and regret. Unless and until we can find a better, more reliable way to identify potential mass shooters early, we have to acknowledge the nature of the choice before us: Punish many innocent people or remain mostly defenseless against the malicious few.
Nobody wants to make one side of that trade. But nobody wants to face the other side either.
And on the left, Nick Kristof recycles a column where he tried to actually talk a bit of sense into his fellow lefties. Let me extract this:
Frankly, liberal opposition to guns has often been ineffective, and sometimes counterproductive. The 10-year ban on assault weapons accomplished little, partly because definitions were about cosmetic features like bayonet mounts (and partly because even before the ban, such guns were used in only 2 percent of crimes).
Whoa, say what?!? Normally libs are eager to parade their utter lack of knowledge of guns by railing about an assault weapons ban as the first order of business. That does not generally lead to a calm and productive discussion. On the other hand, the Washington Post shows signs that they are not afraid of the truth on gun control, which is a hopeful sign.
In any case, I would like to see Messrs. McLaughlin and Kristof co-chair a Pundits Panel on gun control. Their chief of staff can be Leah Libresco, author of "I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise."
My hope is that we can move beyond the famous Onion headline:
No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens
Five states allow guns to be seized before someone can commit violence
In the wake of massacres like Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a small number of states have passed “red flag laws” that allow the seizure of guns before people can commit acts of violence.
California, Washington, Oregon, Indiana and Connecticut have statutes that can be used to temporarily take guns away from people whom a judge deems a threat to themselves or others. Lawmakers in 18 other states — including Florida — plus the District of Columbia have proposed similar measures. At the federal level, California lawmakers Rep. Salud Carbajal (D) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) introduced legislation last May that would encourage states to adopt the approach.
Mental illness, escalating threats, substance abuse and domestic violence are among the circumstances in which a judge can order weapon restrictions under the laws.
That is a court-supervised process that could be effective while preserving due process rights, unlike the absurd proposals to expand the role of the No Fly list to become a No Buy list as well.
Some of the other Kristof suggestions, such as raising the legal gun purchase age to 21, as with cigarettes and alcohol, don't faze me. I should add that he notes domestic violence restraining orders but does not expand on that to pick up the Red Flag Laws. I have no doubt he would support it, however, and yes, that gives me pause.
In any case, there are some positive steps we could take that might improve our national record on gun violence while respecting (but slightly rebalancing, under court supervision) our right of self defense. And as a matter of pure politics it might behoove the Republicans to put forward some ideas of their own rather than simply knock down the stupider ideas from the other side.
Connecticut is one of the five states with a Red Flag law. Their law, passed in 1999, did not prevent Adam Lanza of Sandy Hook horror, but with a different "See something, say something" social norm, who can say? In any case, here is a Duke study on the impact of that law.
For those who can separate citations from the source, here is an Everytown article with lots of footnotes on Red Flag laws. Distrust but verify!