Why we’re still debating guns in 2016

Updated 4:49 PM EST, Tue January 5, 2016

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Experts from both sides of the debate offer their views on the issue of guns in America

CNN —  

CNN Opinion rounded up a selection of op-eds from both sides of the gun debate in America–one that continues to rage, with highly publicized shootings in Charleston, Chattanooga, Lafayette, Roanoke, the campus of Umpqua Community College in Oregon, and San Bernardino, California, where at least 14 people were killed in December. Where are we today on guns and mass shootings? Here are experts’ opinions on the issue. Watch President Obama as he joins Anderson Cooper and a live audience for a CNN Prime time event: Guns in America, Thursday Night, 8 pm ET.

Julian Zelizer: Why nothing happens on gun control

Why does gun reform fail, no matter how intense the outrage from horrendous attacks?

The most important and obvious factor is exactly what the President mentioned: the overwhelming power of the gun lobby.

This is one of the most sophisticated lobbies in the country. The National Rifle Assocation and other gun rights organizations employ a full arsenal of lobbying tools – from disputed constitutional arguments, to a massive campaign finance war chest, to voter mobilization drives – that are enough to influence members of both parties.

In the 2014 midterm elections, the NRA spent $12 million, with 95% of its candidates victorious. Whenever the issue comes up in Congress, the NRA mobilizes and makes it clear that there will be payback for any representative or senator who supports gun control. Read more …

Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and a New America fellow. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” and “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society.”

Carol Costello: Feel disrespected? Pull a gun

We require every single person in every state in this country to pass a driving proficiency test before they’re issued a license to get behind the wheel. So why not require that wannabe gun owners pass a gun proficiency test before they are issued a license to obtain and shoot a gun?

Under our current federal laws, states require little more than filling out a form in order to buy and use a gun. Depending on where a gun is purchased, the applicant may have to undergo a criminal background check, and wait a couple days before they can purchase a firearm. The fact that it’s so easy is a matter of national pride. Read more …

Carol Costello anchors the 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. ET edition of CNN’s “Newsroom” each weekday.

Daniel Webster: How America swallowed the gun lobby’s Kool-Aid

Daniel W. Webster
Daniel W. Webster

Once again, Americans are shocked and saddened by an unspeakable act of gun violence. Nine innocent people who attended a bible study at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, will not return home to their loved ones, and a community will forever be changed.

In a nation with a homicide rate that is nearly seven times higher than the average of other developed countries which have much stricter regulations, the all too regular experience of mass murder committed with firearms in American is tragic and senseless.

We should not have to accept these often preventable acts of violence – about 11,000 homicides committed with firearms per year, or about 30 a day – as our fate. Read more …

Daniel Webster is director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, and professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Cedric Alexander: Can we have gun rights and gun safety?

Cedric L. Alexander
Cedric L. Alexander

Let’s rethink the idea of a “well regulated militia.”

I’m not talking about starting a vigilante movement. I am asking that we begin to think of ourselves – all of us who live in this great country – as guardians of our communities. That is the way the framers of the Bill of Rights thought of the “militia.”

While the second clause of the single-sentence Second Amendment gives us the right to keep and bear arms, I believe that the first clause gives us the responsibility for being a militia: the guardians of our country and our communities within it. Read more …

Cedric L. Alexander is a CNN law enforcement analyst and director of public safety at the DeKalb County Police Department in Georgia. He is a former national president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

S.E. Cupp: On guns, let’s focus on facts, not fears

What’s the difference between a semi-automatic weapon and a fully-automatic weapon? What’s the definition of an “assault weapon”? What features are cosmetic and which make a gun truly dangerous? Is there really such a thing as “high capacity ammunition”?

You might not know the answers to these questions. But you’d expect the lobbyists, activists, pundits and politicians who advocate for gun control to, wouldn’t you?

American deaths in terrorism vs. gun violence in one graph

Yet more often than not, the very people looking to peel back our Constitutionally-protected Second Amendment rights are the ones who can’t answer these simple questions. Whether it’s a pundit who doesn’t know the difference between a semi-automatic and automatic rifle or a congresswoman looking to ban high-capacity magazines but can’t explain how magazines work, shouldn’t language matter? Read more …

S.E. Cupp is a political commentator for CNN and is also the author of “Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity,” co-author of “Why You’re Wrong About the Right,” a columnist at the New York Daily News and a political commentator for Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.

Colin Goddard: The gun lobby’s foolish answer

Gun control activist Colin Goddard was shot four times during the April 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.
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Gun control activist Colin Goddard was shot four times during the April 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.

The truth is, elected officials who aren’t willing to take action want these events to recede from the headlines so they can return to the status quo of not standing up to the gun lobby.

It’s time for all Americans to come together and ask our lawmakers, “Do you side with the overwhelming number of Americans who support basic gun safety measures or do you side with the gun lobby?”

For the sake of the many Americans whose lives were destroyed during this cruel summer of gun violence – while doing their jobs, enjoying a night out at the movies, or praying in their house of worship – we demand that political leaders side the right way and take action to end this crisis. Read more …

Colin Goddard is a Virginia Tech shooting survivor and a senior policy advocate for Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group.

Sally Kohn: Why won’t GOP act on gun control?

The same conservatives who complained about how same-sex marriage was decided largely by the courts instead of voters want the courts to strike down gun control laws that were passed by voters and their representatives. It’s hard to argue you’re the side that stands for values when your values are so plainly inconsistent.