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The Wall Street Journal editorial board is urging restraint in discussing new measures to curb gun violence in the wake of Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 20 children and seven adults. In an editorial Monday, the Journal argued that “there is a time” for public debate on what to do in the aftermath of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
That time, the paper writes, is not now.
As happened after the shootings at Columbine High School, where two students shot 12 other students, there will be calls for the control of guns, notwithstanding the existence of 200 million guns amid a U.S. population of 311 million. Last year in Norway, a nation with a tight gun-control and licensing regime, Anders Breivik methodically gunned down 69 people, mostly teenagers, on the island of Utoya. […]
There is time enough for that public debate and all the usual intellectual tensions put in motion by such discussion. But not at this moment. Newtown’s massacre is a crushing event. The emotions pouring now from every person in the United States toward those families are the right ones. It is better to let them run for a while.
The Journal’s position stands in clear contrast to other newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, who have published editorials and op-ed columns arguing that the country must seize the opportunity for meaningful discussion about gun control before the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., fades from public memory.
Unsurprisingly, the National Review, another conservative publication, concurred with the Journal, taking an even stronger stance that argued that any new gun control legislation would infringe on Second Amendment rights.
Here’s an excerpt from the NRO’s editorial Monday (emphasis added):
The practical consequence of living for nearly two-and-a-half centuries under the almost universally benevolent protection of the Second Amendment is a society in which there are hundreds of millions of guns, in which 47 per cent of families and nearly as many Democrats as Republicans own guns, and in which the dissent over the sacrosanctity of gun rights is heard largely because of the overrepresentation in the media of the coastal, urban Left. Those upset with the order of things are welcome to try, and doomed to fail, to repeal the Second Amendment via the constitutional process. But the guns of America aren’t going anywhere any time soon, and generic calls to “do something” — even insofar as doing something is desirable — must reckon with this fact.
On Friday, the president promised “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” We doubt that something like this is possible, in a way consistent with the principle and the fact of the Second Amendment. If the possibility of terrors like Newtown are a reminder of why we need politics, their reality is a reminder that politics can do only so much.
In the days since the Sandy Hook shooting, several lawmakers, mostly Democratic, have pledged to introduce legislation that puts more restrictions on the sale and ownership of guns and ammunition. Conservatives like Rupert Murdoch and MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough, a former Republican Congressman, have also joined the call.
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