The New York Times has published a front-page editorial calling for stricter gun control following a series of high-profile mass shootings that have rattled the nation and revived a longstanding disagreement over how to prevent gun violence.
The editorial, published in the Saturday edition, is the paper’s first in 95 years to appear on the front page, and calls for lawmakers to take steps to “end the gun epidemic in America.”
“It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency,” said the editorial.
The opinion piece also slammed elected leaders “whose job it 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.”
The American public is involved in a passionate gun control debate following back-to-back shootings that left three dead at a health center in Colorado and 14 dead at a California center for people with developmental disabilities.
Americans have long been divided over how to deal with gun violence, with members of the Democratic Party generally supporting stricter laws governing the sale of firearms and members of the Republican Party generally opposing them.
The debate has become even more heated during the current presidential election campaign.
Following the California shooting, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and her primary challenger, Bernie Sanders, called for tougher restrictions on gun purchases, saying congressional inaction on the issue is unacceptable.
Senate proposal rejected
Clinton, who has made the issue a primary focus of many of her campaign stops, on Friday criticized lawmakers who this past week voted down a proposal aimed at keeping guns from those on a terrorist watch list.
1920 NYT Front-page Editorial
The New York Times ran a front-page editorial Saturday urging tougher gun control laws.
The last time the paper ran an editorial on the front page was in June 1920, when it lamented the nomination of Warren Harding as the Republican presidential candidate.
Harding served as president from 1921 to 1923, and his term in office was fraught with scandal, including Teapot Dome. But he was credited with embracing technology and showing sensitivity to the plights of minorities and women.
He died of a heart attack during a trip to San Francisco in August 1923.
Sources: New York Times, whitehouse.gov
“We have thousands of people on a no-fly list. They get put on there based on credible information and suspicion that they should not be put on a plane inside our country or coming into our country,” Clinton said at a campaign stop.
“If you’re too dangerous to fly in America, you are too dangerous to buy a gun in America,” she added.
Republican presidential candidates hit back, saying the focus on gun control is misguided, given that the California shooting was carried out by a couple who apparently were inspired by the Islamic State extremist group.
One Republican presidential hopeful, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, said calls for stricter gun control following the shooting were “typical of the political left in America.”
“They didn’t even know any of the facts about this and they immediately jumped on it as an opportunity to push their gun control agenda even though no gun laws would have prevented this from occurring,” Rubio said.
We don’t need gun control, he added, “we need terrorist control.”
Impasse likely to continue
Though the issue is once again at the center of public consciousness, the failure of the expanded gun control measures in the Senate suggest that there will still be no significant change in gun policy.
President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is said to be considering ways of using his executive authority to implement several measures, including closing a loophole that allows people to buy firearms at gun shows without a background check.
Obama on Friday met with former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head during a mass shooting in Arizona in 2011.
In a statement, White House officials said they discussed “ongoing efforts by the administration to identify additional actions within existing authorities.”