Gun Control: Still Not Likely

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In another post, commenter rmarin makes the argument:

According to an IANSA report published in 2006, gun-related incidents result in 300,000 fatalities and one million injuries worldwide every year. Many of those guns come from the U.S.

Mexican authorities reported that 80 percent of guns in the country came from the U.S., 50 percent of handguns seized by Canada’s gun crime task force were also smuggled across the U.S. border and 30 percent of guns recovered by Japanese authorities originated in the U.S., the IANSA found.
I think that the US have a problem. But they do not want to face it. They hide behind the 2nd amendment.

This week’s tragedy happened in a state that one Virginia official described to me today as “a gun buyer’s paradise.” And by all accounts so far, the massacre was carried out with weapons that were obtained legally. But in talking to Democrats on Capitol Hill, I’m picking up no enthusiasm for a cause that many have deemed a political loser. Al Gore’s relatively modest proposal in the wake of Columbine for licensing gun owners (as opposed to the more radical one of registering their guns) is still widely believed to have been a factor in costing him the election, losing him votes that he might otherwise have gotten from, for instance, gun-owning union members. Recent years have also seen the gun lobby on a big winning streak on Capitol Hill.

At this point, even in the wake of a tragedy, it is hard to see that changing. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cautioned today against a “rush to judgment” toward stricter gun control, and added: “I think we ought to be thinking about the families and the victims and not speculate about future legislative battles that might lie ahead.”

UPDATE WEDNESDAY MORNING: Elsewhere on TIME.com, Hillary Hylton reports that if gun control advocates don’t see political opportunity in the massacre at Virginia Tech, the gun lobby does.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Commenter hadenough has questioned whether the gun issue really hurt Gore. It has taken me a while to find the stat I was looking for, but I’ve finally come up with it, thanks to the help of Mike Podhorzer at the AFL-CIO. Union votes are instructive to look at here, because without them, Gore would not have won any of the battleground states of the Midwest. Among union voters overall, Gore trounced Bush 63-32, or an overall point spread of 31. But among gun-owning union voters, that margin was far smaller. He still won, but only by 52-44, which was an 8-point spread. One other thing worth remembering here is that the NRA had waged a very aggressive anti-Gore campaign that focused in particular on NRA members who also belonged to unions.

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