The question arises after every mass murder, says the Associated Press: Will this one change the political calculus in Washington against tougher gun control? The answer, after the Virginia Tech killings, the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabby Giffords, the Colorado movie-theater attack, the Wisconsin Sikh temple shootings, and others: No.
AP says Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct., the bloodiest attack against youngsters in the nation’s history, is a possible tipping point after Washington’s decade-long aversion even to talking about stricter gun laws. It remains to be seen whether Sandy Hook will break the usual cycle of shock fading into political reality. That reality is based on a combination of powerful gun lobbying and public opinion, which has shifted against tougher gun control. With the murder rate less than half what it was two decades ago, and violent crime down even more in that time, gun control has declined as a political issue.