Opinion Brief

Will the Arizona shootings have any effect on gun control?

In the wake of Saturday's tragedy, gun control reformers have called for a crackdown on the sale of assault weapons. Will this be a turning point?

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), a longtime gun-control advocate, is set to introduce legislation targeting the type of high-capacity ammunition clips used by the suspected gunman in Saturday's shootings in Arizona. The gun allegedly used to kill six in Tucson, Ariz., was a Glock 19 9mm semi-automatic, and its high-capacity magazine would have been illegal under the federal assault-weapons ban that Congress allowed to expire in 2004. Thanks to Arizona's liberal gun laws, the alleged gunman was able to buy it after submitting to a simple, instant background check. McCarthy wants to restore the federal ban, but admits that she doubts whether her effort will gain enough support. Will the Giffords shooting spur lawmakers to act? (Watch an MSNBC discussion about gun rights)

No politician has the guts to stand up for gun control: While pundits dissect Sarah Palin's role in this tragedy, says John Cook at Gawker, no one is talking about banning "plainly insane people" from buying handguns. Why? "Because gun control is a loser [issue]." Americans seem to prefer the occasional mass killing to a sensible conversation about gun control, and "no politicians have the courage to try to convince them otherwise.""The sad death of gun control"

In fact, gun rights are the only thing our politicians agree on: There are very few issues on which Congress has reached a "bipartisan truce," say Molly Ball and Shira Toeplitz at Politico, and the right to buy and own guns is one of them. As would-be reformers like McCarthy soon discover, this "political consensus... has only hardened in recent years." Don't expect a "widespread conversion" any time soon."Missing from Arizona shooting debate: guns"

Americans don't want more gun control: "The simple fact," says Michael Scherer in Time, is that fewer and fewer Americans have been calling for tighter gun restrictions since the 1990s. Only 44 percent of us now say that we should tighten up our gun laws, compared to 78 percent in 1991. That decline is "hard to mistake.""Waning support for more gun control"

But they support a ban on semi-automatics: While it's true to say that Americans don't want stricter gun laws in general, says Gary Langer at ABC News, "most Americans in the past have favored banning semi-automatic handguns." A poll in 2007, after the shooting at Virginia Tech, found that 67 percent of Americans were in favor of "banning assault weapons." The nature of these shootings may yet "prompt a new look at gun violence.""Gun violence and views on gun control"

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