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January 16th, 2013
07:44 PM ET

Letters to the President #1458: 'The gun fight'

Reporter's Note: President Obama has unveiled his plans for more restrictions on who can get guns and under what circumstances. I have unveiled my latest letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

So I saw you signing those new provisions to tighten up on existing gun laws, and proposing even more if Congress will join your effort; new restrictions on assault weapons, the size of clips, and more extensive use of background checks.

Considering the terrible shootings we’ve seen lately in Connecticut, Colorado, and elsewhere, I’m sure a great many Americans are happy to see anything happening on this front. On the other hand, as best I can read the polls, not many people have much faith that new gun controls alone will make much difference.

I know, I know, that the gun lobby has been railing about that very idea for some days now, suggesting that an effort aimed purely at guns is punitive and will be ineffective. I don’t mean to buy into their line, but then again I’m just telling you what the polls suggest: Many of our fellow citizens, while willing to consider new gun controls, really do want to see a much more comprehensive approach to tamping down violence.

Certainly it is a complicated issue. There are indeed a lot of guns in our country, but we’ve had a lot of guns for a long time. There are guns that look very menacing and have the capability of releasing a stream of shots very quickly, but we’ve had versions of that for a long time too. And there is a lot of violence in our movies and games, but we’ve had that for some time as well…maybe not in precisely the same form, but there nonetheless.

I think the key lies in figuring out what has changed. What is different about our culture? What alchemy has occurred between our guns, our society, our behavior, our demographics, our economy, and our health care? What tipped us over the edge so that massacres of innocent people became commonplace?

Those are not easy questions, I know, but I don’t suppose solving the riddle of how to stop gun violence will be easy either. And whatever you accomplished today…at very best…is likely to be just a start.

Hope all is well.

Regards,
Tom

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