For the first time since 1920, The New York Times published a front page editorial on Saturday. There has been a lot of water under the bridge since 1920 — the Great Depression, World War II, a half dozen more wars and armed conflicts, the civil rights movement, political assassinations, and even September 11, 2001 — but it took the unrelenting carnage of gun violence in America to merit a page one editorial. Gun Debate Yields Page One Editorial:
The New York Times ran an editorial on its front page on Saturday, “The Gun Epidemic,” the first time the paper has done so since 1920, calling for greater regulation on guns in the aftermath of a spate of mass shootings.
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In a statement, the publisher of The Times, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said the paper was placing an editorial on Page 1 for the first time in many decades “to deliver a strong and visible statement of frustration and anguish about our country’s inability to come to terms with the scourge of guns.”
The editorial reflects the intensifying debate over gun laws that is taking place in the days following two recent mass shootings — one in Colorado Springs on Nov. 27, and another in San Bernardino, Calif., on Wednesday in which 14 people were shot and killed.
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The last time The Times ran an editorial on the front page was in June 1920, when it lamented the nomination of Warren G. Harding as the Republican presidential candidate.
Since newspapers in gun crazy Arizona are unlikely to republish The New York Times editorial, here it is. End the Gun Epidemic in America:
End the Gun Epidemic in America
It is a moral outrage and national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency.
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD DEC. 4, 2015
All decent people feel sorrow and righteous fury about the latest slaughter of innocents, in California. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are searching for motivations, including the vital question of how the murderers might have been connected to international terrorism. That is right and proper.
But motives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. 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.
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. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. 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, as they did on Thursday. 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.
Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true. They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulation. Those challenges exist. 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. Worse, politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.
It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.
Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.
What better time than during a presidential election to show, at long last, that our nation has retained its sense of decency?
This editorial published on A1 in the Dec. 5 edition of The New York Times. It is the first time an editorial has appeared on the front page since 1920.