On Guns, Keep Trying

I wish I had the answers on what to do about guns. Actually, there are lots of answers. The problem is political.

There are several things we could do to at least stem some of the insanity. According to a recent poll, stricter background checks are supported by 82% of Americans. Red flag laws are supported by 74% of us. A ban on assault weapons has the backing of 56%. Generally more strict gun laws are supported by 60% and a record high margin favors tougher gun laws over gun rights, 59% to 35%. Even 56% of gun owners — including me — believe that stemming gun violence is more important than protecting gun rights.

So why doesn’t much of anything happen? Because while 92% of Democrats and 54% of independents support gun safety over unfettered gun rights, 70% of Republicans would support the right of a kindergartner to bring an AK-47 to show and tell. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not much.

So those who won’t support even mild, sensible limits on guns are a relative sliver of Americans, but that sliver dominates one of the parties and that party controls the House and, more importantly, the Supreme Court. And, in the last Congress, Democrats’ razor thin majorities couldn’t get over objections from the few Democratic senators from red states, though they did make some modest progress. And here in Wisconsin the gerrymandered dominance of legislative Republicans makes any measure dead on arrival.

So what do we do as the innocent victims pile up as they did again in East Lansing the other day, the 68th mass shooting in the country since the first of the year? Just keep trying. Keep making the case in all kinds of forums, including this one. Keep introducing legislation, even when it has no chance. Keep up the political organizing on the ground and over the airwaves. Defeat as many gun extremists as we can in election after election.

We can hope that demographics might help. Younger voters are more concerned about this and more willing to control guns. Maybe at some point enough gun rights absolutists will simply move on to God’s firing range. In the meantime, there’s little to be done except to keep up the pressure.

I know. They say the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing, expecting a different result. But who has a better idea?

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Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

3 thoughts on “On Guns, Keep Trying

  1. I agree with you, Dave, and if someone does have a better idea, they need to have the courage to speak up. And it does take courage to speak up when opponents–gun owners— are so vehement about their right to bear arms.


  2. Apparently there is a new definition of “mass shootings”. Now, 3/4 of these shootings involve the death of no one or one person, and 1/3 are in homes.
    See link to Matt Christenson’s Youtube video below.


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