Why did the Newtown, Connecticut shooting make the difference? What changed? Why is President Obama finally stepping up and demanding action now, today?
Was it that the victims were so very young? Was it that there were so many of them? Why were these horrific, unthinkable, heartbreaking murders different than all the others, the ones that happen every day, every week, every year? Why are we more devastated by these deaths than by those that preceded them? Have we become that desensitized to adult and young adult homicides?
If you missed it, here’s “Another Day, Another Shooting” that helps drive those points home. Please note the “(It’s Just) Another Day” underscore:
I’ve been asking myself painful questions all week. I’m very aware that the slaughter of innocent young children hits us where we live and breathe, I get it. But little ones, teens, men, and women are gunned down all the time as Rachel Maddow so effectively chronicled in the Blunt video.
Why now? Why was enough enough this time? Thankfully, it does seem that we’re at a tipping point, but many of us are trying to work through this; sometimes that very process can help us heal. Lawrence O’Donnell even devoted part of his show the other day to this very topic, and Doyle McManus wrote up his own analysis in today’s L.A. Times, which I quote below.
But first, here are a few excerpts from another L.A. Times piece, “Gun lobby’s grip on Congress threatened,”that caught my eye:
“I don’t think this is going to fade back into invisibility again,” she said. “We seem to have turned a corner in which it’s just not acceptable for children to be killed like that.”
But Ms. Ginsburg, it’s not acceptable for anyone to be killed like that. Why now?
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.):
“Any time you’re up against the NRA, you have a fight. But I think the atmosphere has changed,” she said. “I think members of Congress will be hearing from moms and dads in their districts, and I think if we fight hard for this, we will win in the end.”
Supporters of gun rights agreed that the age of the victims, most of them 6 or 7 years old, created a shared sense of national anguish that makes their position particularly delicate.
“This is just the most horrific scenario,” said Richard Feldman, a former NRA regional political director and gun lobbyist who now runs the Independent Firearm Owners Assn. “This puts all gun owners in a defensive position, no question about that.“
So killing very young people is worse than killing young teens or young moms or middle-agers or the disabled or the very old? Please understand, I’m not criticizing or challenging, I’m just asking, engaging, exploring lingering questions and feelings that I have.
Doyle McManus had a few answers. He referred to a poll that showed 54% of Americans now favor stricter gun control laws, a five-year high.
Consider the differences between today and last summer, when there was a brief clamor for stricter gun laws after a gunman killed 12 people in an Aurora, Colo., theater. Back then, it wasn’t clear whether President Obama could win a second term, and it seemed likely that the GOP would retake the Senate. Congressional Republicans saw no reason to compromise, and Obama didn’t have political capital to waste. [...]
[T]he president won by mobilizing a Democratic majority among groups that are overwhelmingly in favor of gun control: women, suburban voters and Latinos. [...]
Democrats, college-educated voters, women and minorities favor stricter gun regulations by significant majorities. Opposition to gun control is concentrated among white men, especially white men who didn’t go to college. [...] If Obama wants to solidify his coalition, he probably needs to respond to its members’ desire for tougher gun control… And with no more elections to face, he’s free to pursue the agenda he wants.
So that explains some of it politically, but what about emotionally? Why is our collective sorrow compelling us to act this time around?
There are any number of conclusions that we can draw from all the insights and observations, but the fact remains that it took the multiple deaths of elementary school children to wake some people up. Inner city kids dying didn’t. Movie theater murders didn’t. Mass murder at a Sikh temple didn’t. The murder of this four-year-old didn’t. These didn’t. Nor did thousands of others.
This tragic crime did.
Better late than never? Or too little too late?