Lund on Gun Control After Newtown

Commenting on the federal government's failed efforts to provide expanded gun control laws in the wake of the Newtown shootings, Professor Nelson Lund expresses no surprise at the failure. 

"It's exactly what I expected—that there will be a lot of noise and in the end little or nothing would happen," says Lund, who had predicted as much six months earlier. 

Lund points out that any changes that have occurred since Newtown seem to be relatively minor and in states that already have aggressive gun control laws. 

"They've made them a little bit more aggressive but I'm not aware of anything really significant that's been done anywhere," Lund says, adding that while Connecticut, site of the Newtown shooting, has made changes to their gun laws, "They adjusted their definition of a so-called assault weapon but not in any way that was very significant." He observes that, "They toughened up some of the penalties and that sort of thing but it looks more like a 'let's send a message' [public relations] stunt than anything else."

Research by the Pew Research Center appears to support Lund's contention that gun control measures failed primarily because those in Congress believe support for gun control would pose a political problem for them. 

"A lot of times these bills are considered in Congress and they sound great in concept but if you really look at them carefully, you can see when it actually becomes law and put into effect, a lot of your constituents are going to be quite unhappy, Lund explains, citing the background check proposal as an example. "If Congress passes a law that says you can't sell your shotgun to your neighbour who you've known for 30 years without going through some expensive and time-consuming bureaucratic process, you're liable to get upset."

U.S. Gun Control: What's changed 6 months after Newtown? CBC News, June 15, 2013. By Mark Gollom.

"Back in December, on the day of the shootings, U.S. President Barack Obama hinted that some kind of change to gun laws would be forthcoming. In an emotional statement, Obama pledged that 'we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.'

"He followed up on that pledge by making gun control one of his main priorities for his second term of office. While the issue had barely registered during the presidential campaign, Obama began a determined push for a number of gun control proposals, including the reinstatement of a ban on assault-style rifles and the expansion of federal background checks on firearms buyers.

"Of all his initiatives, those expanded background checks seemed to have the most support, with polls at the time showing nearly 90 per cent of Americans in favour of such a move."

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