Two Times Columnists Call for Gun Control on Same Day

Gail Collins admitted her proposal might not work, but wants Congress to prove it can defy the National Rifle Association, while Nicholas Kristof calls for a 28-day waiting period before buying a handgun.
Two Times columnists, Nicholas Kristof and Gail Collins, took advantage of their Thursday columns to call for more restrictions on gun ownership in the wake of the fatal shootings and assassination attempt in Tucson.

Up first was Gail Collins' "Obama Brings It Home." After praising Obama for having "saving the magic" of his speech-making "for a time when we really needed it," she offered a concrete proposal that even she admitted might not have stopped the Giffords shooting.

Let me offer one really, really modest one. Congress should have an actual debate about Representative Carolyn McCarthy's bill to reduce gun violence.

You will notice I just said have a debate. And the bill does not even control guns. It simply bans the sale of the special bullet clip that allowed the Tucson gunman to shoot 20 people without reloading.

The second-half of Collins' column was the epitome of liberal symbolism over substance, with Collins arguing that the debate would be worthwhile just to defy the National Rifle Association.

McCarthy's bill might not have saved Representative Gabrielle Giffords from being shot. But it has to be worth talking about whether it could have saved some of her constituents.

In that light, I believe members of Congress can have a hearing and a civilized debate on a bill that is modest and relevant but that is opposed by a hyperpowerful lobbying group that scares the daylight out of them.

Maybe they could do it just to prove it to themselves that they can.

Just a thought.

At page bottom, Kristof offered up "Why Not Regulate Guns as Seriously as Toys?" Kristof first cleared his throat with a few concessions before comparing America to Yemen.

It's also true that city slickers sometimes exaggerate the risk of any one gun. The authors of Freakonomics noted that a home with a swimming pool is considerably more dangerous for small children than a home with a gun. They said that 1 child drowns annually for every 11,000 residential pools, but 1 child is shot dead for every 1 million-plus guns.

All that said, guns are far more deadly in America, not least because there are so many of them. There are about 85 guns per 100 people in the United States, and we are particularly awash in handguns.

(The only country I've seen that is more armed than America is Yemen. Near the town of Sadah, I dropped by a gun market where I was offered grenade launchers, machine guns, antitank mines, and even an anti-aircraft weapon. Yep, an N.R.A. dream! No pesky regulators. Just terrorism and a minor civil war.)

Kristof relayed suggestions by Harvard professor David Hemenway, author of a new anti-gun study, including "Limit gun purchases to one per month per person, to reduce gun trafficking" and "follow Canada in requiring a 28-day waiting period to buy a handgun.