Published on January 7th, 20133
Controlling Gun Control
The shocking massacre that transpired last Friday in Newtown, CT represents a seminal moment in America’s history.
Society was not ready for the evil that lurked, as it was a different evil. This was not a foreign terrorist trying to cause chaos. No, this terror came from within. It was one that targeted the most innocent element of society and has caused significant trauma for any compassionate human. Many now question what they can do to prevent this type of harm to befall the ones they love.
Yet this terror is more complex than a simple solution can afford, as it was born out of a number of societal breakdowns, all of which can share in the blame for the eventual outcome: a broken home, lax school security, ineptitude in mental-health treatment, the need for gun control, society’s tone toward those who are “different”, etc. Emerging from the wake of this fear and disbelief is society pursuit of a fix. America is looking for immediate gratification, the ability to say, “We did something to fix things.”
On Sunday night, President Obama addressed a community and a nation. He made a speech as a President and father trying to make sense of something which is senseless:
Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try…We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?
It is from this tragic event and foreshadowed in this passage from President Obama’s emotional speech that the U.S. can expect to see a more ardent dialogue around reforming gun control. As a society this discussion is needed; however the Republican Party needs to approach it with incisive accountability.
Since the end of the Bush Era, America has witnessed a reactive GOP, constantly playing defense. This is a shame as Republicans offer practicality, logic and morality, all things that would greatly benefit dialogue on key issues. Unfortunately, the party has largely allowed others to dictate its narrative as of late, thus foregoing their ability to effectively influence. Considering the nature of the debate that is shortly to intensify, it is vital for Republicans to unite and lead the discussion on how to effectively reform gun laws while at the same time preserving the 2nd Amendment.
On the flipside, if Republicans choose to be the hard-headed knuckle-draggers in this discussion, the outcome will likely be a meaningful reduction of a constitutional right. The issue of gun control offers the GOP an opportunity to be the high-minded party of Lincoln and Roosevelt once again. It must return to its roots of being the party that looked out for the greater good of the masses, with recognition of the wickedness that must be curtailed.
Expediency is a must for Republicans as warning shots have already been fired. First it was Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) who made the classless call for President Obama to “exploit” the Newtown shooting to secure tighter gun control laws. Then, California Senator Diane Feinstein stated that she will introduce an assault weapons ban bill once congress reconvenes after the holiday recess. Finally, President Obama is set to tap Vice President Joe Biden to lead an administration-wide effort to look at gun control. This gives the GOP a limited window to show their ability to influence the direction of this debate.
Americans widely cherish the Constitution and are respectful of the 2nd Amendment. They also realize that there was a deranged man with scores of issues that was responsible for pulling the trigger of a semi-automatic handgun that in turn took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults. Thus, in the wake of the circumstances and the loss suffered, the 2nd Amendment comes off to many as archaic, while anti-gun control advocates are seen as uncompassionate and self-serving. As people of liberty and tradition, Republicans know this is not the case; however the public is motivated for change and an expedient realization of this is a must.
Starting with gun control, Republicans have the opportunity to own the narrative once again. In many ways, it is the perfect calling for the GOP as it is an issue of great significance for its constituents. By being at the forefront with a solution that shows compassion and insight into affectively addressing this issue, while at the same time preserving the spirit of the 2nd Amendment, Republicans can effectively disarm the Democrat counterargument moving forward.
Realistically, this will be difficult as there will be elements of the entrenched extreme that will have none of this. This is understandable to the point that any reforms would undoubtedly mean more bureaucratic hurdles to gain access to certain firearms, permits and provisions, which on the surface appears to be an infringement. However, what the Right (i.e. Republicans, Tea Party, Libertarians, etc.) must realize is that if they bicker and in-fight, the Left will control yet another issue. Only this time, it is an issue that impacts the Constitution and more specifically, an amendment that is near and dear to Republicans.
The nation is aware of the numerous societal breakdowns involved in the recent gun-related mass murders. Expect to see a push to address the issues of mental health and school security in the immediate future. However to expect society to overlook gun control when looking at everything else is a fool’s hope and calls for immediate action by Republican leadership. If Democrats are allowed to drive the debate and control public perception, expect to see significant limitations placed on the 2nd Amendment and a GOP “loss” leading up to the midterm elections.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erol Senel has been plying his trade in the world of finance and personal investing. Through this real world experience, he has found his true professional passion in economics and financial history.