In My Backyard

Ronald Reagan, playing the character of Frame Johnson in the 1953 film “Law and Order” Photograph courtesy Everett Collection

Governor Reagan told reporters that afternoon that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” He called guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.” In a later press conference, Reagan said he didn’t “know of any sportsman who leaves his home with a gun to go out into the field to hunt or for target shooting who carries that gun loaded.”

A growing group of rank-and-file NRA members disagreed. In an era of rising crime rates, fewer people were buying guns for hunting, and more were buying them for protection. The NRA leadership didn’t fully grasp the importance of this shift. In 1976, Maxwell Rich, the executive vice president, announced that the NRA would sell its building in Washington, D.C., and relocate the headquarters to Colorado Springs, retreating from political lobbying and expanding its outdoor and environmental activities. Rich’s plan sparked outrage among the new breed of staunch, hard-line gun-rights advocates.

—Adam Winkler, “The Secret History of Guns,” the Atlantic, September 2011.

people of good will.

Again, we debate.

Well, some debate; most, “besmear’d with blood,” kick our can-of-massacre down a heartbroken American road. See, here, Garry Wills for Milton’s Paradise Lost. Read, and think, over many other thoughtful pieces on all sides of this debate.

Exactly when will enough be enough?

The nostalgia of guns is flat-out dead. The debate about “control” of guns is believe-it-or-not quieter. See Nate Silver, here.

Frequent mass murder by guns (firearms is so Hoppe’s No. 9) is some tangible and toxic calculus of depression and mental illness, new technology and “gun rights” held tight by a concealed-weapon nation in collective and unconcealed fear.

But all of this, all of it, was …

out there.

Mass Massacre was to the West and South, far, far away. (Memo: One glaring exception to our East Coast miasma was our mayors. They were, and are, out front having attended countless police-officer funerals where the murder is less mass and more line-of-duty.)

The Daily Beast, after the Arizona Massacre (What are we supposed to do? Have armed security outside of each-and-every Starbucks?), did the math on our gun violence from Mississippi to Hawaii. The East Coast elites (read: Connecticut) could take comfort that mass idiocy occurred in Colorado (2.4 times more likely) or West Virginia (3.4 times more likely) or Arizona (3.5 times more likely).

That changed with the horror and nearness of Friday. The certain certitude of not in my backyard has become In My Backyard. Discuss.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.