For the first time since 1920, The New York Times printed an editorial on its front page, calling for stricter federal gun control laws in the wake of the San Bernardino mass shooting. The editorial takes on America's centuries-old love affair with guns, particularly the new wave of military-style assault rifles that have entered the homes of many Americans despite the rifles' deadly force. "It is a moral outrage and disgrace," the editorial board wrote, "that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency."
Titled "End the Gun Epidemic in America," the editorial ran at the top of Saturday's front page alongside stories on the developing FBI investigation into the latest mass shooting, which killed 14 people during a holiday party at a facility for the disabled in San Bernardino. The two suspects are believed to have used assault rifles in the attack, at least two of which were purchased legally.
The editorial board called those assault rifles "weapons of war," manufactured to kill a high number of people in a short amount of time. While assault rifles make up less than 2 percent of guns owned by American civilians, they are frequently linked to mass shootings in America. (The two suspects in the San Bernardino shooting, as well as the gunman in last week's shooting attack on a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Colorado, used assault rifles in their attacks.) The editorial board claimed these combat-style assault rifles are barely modified when marketed to civilians, and urged political leaders to pass a nationwide ban on certain rifles and ammunition.
And what about those political leaders, particularly some GOP presidential hopefuls who tweeted supportive and spiritual words to the families of the victims and nothing else? The New York Times' editorial board chastised America's political leaders for sending prayers and vague wishes, while prolonging their lingering inaction on gun control legislation.
Here are five other powerful lines from The New York Times' history-making front page editorial...
On Gun Lobby Politics
The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job 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.
On The Hypocrisy Of Politicians
America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.
On What The Second Amendment Truly Means
It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.
On The Usage Of Assault Rifles
These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection.
On Why This Is An American Problem
They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did. But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not.