Friday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow said that in light of Friday’s senseless murders in Newtown, Connecticut, the time to talk about gun control is now, in spite of the admonishments of the Fox News Channel, the NRA and even President Barack Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney. She also said that the country’s lawmakers need to get past their “hysterical fear” of discussing gun control in order to make meaningful changes.
Maddow began the segment by discussing a column on the Washington Post‘s “Wonkblog” by Ezra Klein, “Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States.”
“In Ezra’s piece today,” she said, “you can see that if you put these shootings into an international context, it’s even more striking. If you look internationally at the worst mass shooting incidents of the last 50 years,” the United States was home to 15 of the top 24.
Also worth noting, she said, is that there seems to be no correlation between the number of handguns owned by private citizens and the number of mass shootings. Israel and Switzerland both boast high rates of gun ownership, but vicious mass shootings of the type seen in Newtown, CT yesterday are vanishingly rare.
Tighter gun control laws, said Maddow, result in fewer mass shootings. Gun control laws are the only variables that have any affect on levels of gun violence. Population density, daily stress levels and levels of mental illness, which one would think would affect gun violence, in fact do not.
Klein wrote, “When we first collected much of this data, it was after the Aurora, CO shootings, and the air was thick with calls to avoid ‘politicizing’ the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for ‘don’t talk about reforming our gun control laws.’”
“Let’s be clear,” he continued, “That is a form of politicization. When political actors construct a political argument that threatens political consequences if other political actors pursue a certain political outcome, that is, almost by definition, a politicization of the issue. It’s just a form of politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo to stricter gun control laws.”
New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a statement that read, in part, “We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds.”
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), who lost her husband to a random shooter on the Long Island Railroad in 1993, ran for Congress on a gun control platform and won that seat. She, too, released a statement on Friday that said, “There are a lot of unanswered questions right now, but one thing is clear – there’s too much gun violence in our country. These shootings are becoming all too common, and it’s too easy for dangerous people to get the weapons that help them perform mass executions like today’s.”
Maddow pointed out that criminal background checks for gun purchases are not necessary in the U.S., and the fact that “if you are on the freaking terrorist watch list, you can buy a gun.”
“If we’re going to get past this hysterical fear of trying to do anything at all on gun rights,” she said, we have to do it now.