John Donohue: Why the NRA fights background checks
A more powerful NRA today is in no mood to follow the slogan of their "be reasonable" ad campaign of 14 years ago. This relatively small group -- the NRA boasts that it has 4.5 million members, which is peanuts compared to the roughly 40 million AARP members -- might have the political power to pull it off.
Federal law prohibits selling guns to felons or the mentally ill. Background checks are the only way to enforce that law. So, besides criminals and the insane, who could possibly oppose universal background checks?
They are the ones who call the shots at the NRA, and they are the most important people in the opposition. The manufacturers don't want anything that interferes with total gun sales and profits. Read more ...
John J. Donohue is C. Wendell and Edith M. Carlsmith professor of law at Stanford Law School and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Rand Paul: The government wants your gun rights
Congress is debating legislation that will limit Americans' right to keep and bear arms and infringe on the right to privacy. The Bill of Rights was made part of our Constitution explicitly to protect freedoms: the freedom of speech, protection against searches without a warrant, the right to trial by jury and the right to protect oneself with a firearm.
I am compelled to stand up for every amendment and right enumerated in the Constitution.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is attempting to push forward with gun control legislation. The chief problem I have is that nothing in this legislation would have prevented the terrible massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. I am open to ideas that would help prevent tragedies, but this legislation would not have saved us from the national heartbreak of the December school shooting. Read more ...
Rand Paul is a Republican senator from Kentucky and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees.
Daniel Webster: Give gun owners what they want
The politicians called out by [Mark] Kelly and [Gabrielle] Giffords let the National Rifle Association bully them into thinking that gun owners don't want key flaws in our current gun laws fixed and that you can't win elections without the backing of the NRA. The millions of dollars the NRA spent in unsuccessful attempts to win close Senate races in swing states with high gun ownership rates -- Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin -- suggests that candidates can and do win despite strong NRA opposition.
The NRA portrays itself as an organization that speaks for and advocates for gun owners. The reality is that they speak for gun owners with the most extreme views and for the gun industry. A case in point is their opposition to requiring background checks for all firearm sales. Read more ...
Daniel W. Webster is professor and director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
James Alan Fox: Gun control or carry permit won't stop mass murder
If one thing is predictable about mass shootings, however, is that they will spark arguments from gun control advocates and gun rights groups alike. Both sides of the gun issue will probably view this tragedy [shooting at Aurora, Colorado] as one more example of why more or less gun control is the answer ... and both sides will be wrong.
Tighter restrictions on gun purchasing -- for example, eliminating multiple gun sales and closing the gun-show loophole -- may help reduce America's gun violence problem generally, but mass murder is unlike most other forms of violent conflict.
Mass killers are determined, deliberate and dead-set on murder. They plan methodically to execute their victims, finding the means no matter what laws or other impediments the state attempts to place in their way. To them, the will to kill cannot be denied. Read more ...
James Alan Fox is the Lipman Family professor of criminology, law and public policy at Northeastern University and co-author of "Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder."
William Bennett: The case for gun rights is stronger than you think
Many people agreed with me and sent me examples of their son or daughter's school that had armed security guards, police officers or school employees on the premises. Many others vehemently disagreed with me, and one dissenter even wrote that the blood of the Connecticut victims was ultimately on the hands of pro-gun rights advocates.
To that person I would ask: Suppose the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary who was killed lunging at the gunman was instead holding a firearm and was well-trained to use it. Would the result have been different? Or suppose you had been in that school when the killer entered, would you have preferred to be armed?
Evidence and common sense suggest yes. Read more ...
William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.