The last time the New York Times had an editorial on its front page was in 1920. And that 95 year old piece was a complaint that Warren Harding had become the Republican Presidential candidate (granted, he turned out to be a dreadful President). Now the Paper of Record has done it again this morning, clearly aiming to call public attention to the epidemic of gun violence in America. As another Times piece notes, this was a decision by publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger:
In a statement, the publisher of The Times, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said the paper was placing an editorial on Page 1 for the first time in many decades “to deliver a strong and visible statement of frustration and anguish about our country’s inability to come to terms with the scourge of guns
“Even in this digital age, the front page remains an incredibly strong and powerful way to surface issues that demand attention,” Mr. Sulzberger said. “And, what issue is more important than our nation’s failure to protect its citizens?”
I’m fully behind Sulzberger and the editorial, called “End the gun epidemic in America,” and, after long cogitation about this issue, and seeing the bad behavior of legislators and gun proponents, have lost patience with those who either say that it’s futile to tackle this issue, or defend American’s untrammeled right to own guns. It’s not futile—not if American stood up to the National Rifle Association, and the “right” to own guns is, in my view, based on a complete misreading of the Second Amendment, regardless of what the Supreme Court says. It’s right there in the Bill of Rights:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
What part of “well regulated Militia” don’t you understand, gun aficionados? In my view, we need to go to the British system: no handguns and very strict regulation of rifles (no semiautomatic weapons, either). Is Britain rife with shootings by criminals taking advantage of unarmed citizens? Hardly: it has one of the world’s lowest rates of gun homicide. Now everybody will point out the cultural differences between the U.S. and Britain. And you know what? I don’t care. Stricter control of guns is the only way to stop the murders, suicides, and accidental killings that have become an everyday occurrence in America. We’re getting jaded about this—jaded to the point where we see gun control as a futile endeavor.
Here’s what the Times said in its front-page editorial, which I reproduce in full (my emphasis):
All decent people feel sorrow and righteous fury about the latest slaughter of innocents, in California. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are searching for motivations, including the vital question of how the murderers might have been connected to international terrorism. That is right and proper.
But motives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.