Gun-control effort inches forward
As new details emerged of police failings in the run-up to last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla., the push for stricter gun-control laws intensified this week, with President Trump urging lawmakers to take action and major companies severing ties with the National Rifle Association. In the weeks since the massacre, which left 17 dead, the president has voiced support for several reforms: shoring up the federal background check system; banning bump stocks; raising the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21; and arming some teachers. (See Controversy.) In a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers this week, Trump chided Congress for its past inaction, saying, “You’re afraid of the NRA!” But the gun group and Republican lawmakers continued to oppose major gun-control measures. Gun-control advocates, aided by social media–savvy teenage Parkland survivors, had more success, pressuring at least 23 major companies, including Delta, Hertz, and MetLife, to scrap discounted rates for NRA members. Separately, one of the nation’s largest sports retailers, Dick’s Sporting Goods, announced it would no longer stock assault-style rifles, or sell any firearms to under-21s.
In Florida, the armed resource officer assigned to guard Marjory Stoneman Douglas High resigned after it emerged he had stayed outside the school building during the shooting. Three other armed deputies who responded to the scene are also being investigated for reportedly failing to enter the school. Trump slammed the officers’ alleged behavior as “disgusting,” asserting he would have “run in there, even if I didn’t have a weapon.”
What the editorials said
“Such is the ardor” of gun-control activists, said NationalReview.com, that the “comprehensive” policing failures at Parkland are being completely overlooked. It’s not just that four “armed and trained” officers were “cowering outside the high school” during the massacre. In the run-up to the atrocity, the Broward County sheriff’s office received no fewer than 18 calls about Nikolas Cruz, including warnings from two people that he was a potential school shooter. The FBI failed to act on two other tips, and the killer himself “called police to tell them he had been having trouble after the death of his mother.” How many red flags did law enforcement need?
Let’s hope this corporate boycott reduces the NRA’s “outsize influence,” said the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. By convincing its members that any gun-control measure will lead to “jackbooted agents kicking down their doors,” the group has made lawmakers terrified of backing even the smallest reforms. “Corporate pressure works,” said the Chicago Sun-Times. Threats by big firms to move elsewhere have recently forced governors in North Carolina and Indiana to drop discriminatory legislation. Time to “hit the gun lobby where it hurts.”
What the columnists said
Eric Levitz in NYMag.com. Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other Republican lawmakers are bucking the NRA to back raising the minimum age for rifle purchases. Polls taken since the shooting “have registered a significant leftward swing in public opinion.” If Democrats can successfully target suburban voters receptive to gun control in November’s midterms, the GOP may “finally pay a price for its pro-NRA extremism.”
Democrats know that “tinkering” with things like bump stocks won’t “make America a safer place,” said Kyle Smith in National Review.com. Likewise, forcing NRA members to pay full fare for a Delta flight will achieve precisely nothing. The only reason the “anti-gun crowd” is agitating is to “strike a blow against gun culture”—to punish law-abiding citizens “by doing something that annoys them.”
Despite the “popular enthusiasm” for more gun control, Republicans will probably do “absolutely nothing,” said Jennifer Rubin in WashingtonPost.com. Congressional leaders will hope the issue fades before the midterms; Trump will soon lose interest. But that doesn’t mean individual states should give up. Rhode Island’s governor has already signed an executive order permitting gun-violence restraining orders, which allow authorities to temporarily remove guns from potential killers; other states are raising the minimum purchase age. “In the true spirit of federalism,” maybe these “laboratories of democracy” can show Washington the way forward.