The gun control debate took center stage after the brutal terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. In an historic first, the highly respected news giant the New York Times has thrown its considerable weight into the debate. TheTimes issued a front-page editorial on Saturday titled, “End the Gun Epidemic in America” authored by its editorial staff. This is the first time since 1920 that the newspaper has broken from tradition with a front-page editorial. The piece calls out politicians and the proliferation of killer weapons stating, “It is a moral outrage and national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency.”
The power of the Times has made and broken politicians and issues since its founding. It is read throughout the world by the small and the powerful. By taking on the gun control debate it puts its reputation and power on the line by indirectly challenging gun control advocates. Most notably of course is the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA is the one of the most powerful lobbying group in Washington, D.C., and gives millions in campaign contributions. Its policy initiatives and stances oppose any restrictions on the “rights of Americans” to own firearms. The highly conservative and overwhelmingly republican group is opposed to universal background checks and The 2013 Assault Weapons Ban. Surprisingly, some politicians still cling to the NRA narrative in the face of gun horror.
Just two days after the San Bernardino massacre, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz held a gun rally in Johnstown, Iowa. This prompted “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah to state, “Fourteen people just lost their lives in a shooting, and Ted Cruz’s first thought is ‘Oh, that reminds me: Gotta send out my invites to my gun party.’ ‘Yeah, that seems like something you’d only do if you’re an a—–e, which is turns out is exactly what voters are looking for.”
Although the New York Times piece is historic in nature, the glaring omission of the opinion piece is that it fails to directly challenge any specific politicians, political party or gun advocacy group. This is a significant failing that underscores the need to address the hard facts and not just skim the surface. The article also fails to take to task the racist and radical element that exists within those who oppose gun control.