Editorial: Work on the broad areas where Americans, those who own guns and those who don't, agree

Published May 22, 2018

"The worst school shooting since ... February." The sentence jumps off the page of a news story in the aftermath of the murder of eight students and two teachers at Santa Fe High School in Texas. It has been only three months since a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland. Now it has happened again.

This latest tragedy gives fodder to both sides. The confessed gunman had a shotgun and a handgun, so a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines would have not prevented these killings. But the school had armed officers on campus, and still 10 people were killed. And there's the rub. There will be no winners as long as people and politicians approach this as a zero-sum game of two sides locked in existential combat— if you win, I lose.

But as this chart compiled from a study in the American Journal of Public Health shows, there indeed is broad agreement on a surprising range of measures among those who own guns and those who don't. The only two proposals that lack majority support even among gun owners are an assault weapons ban and a ban on high-capacity magazines. "Given that gun issues are connected tightly to cultural and identity politics in America," the authors of the study conclude, "it is noteworthy how much agreement we found in support for policies to regulate the ways people acquire and carry guns."

So why is it so hard to pass legislation on all of the other issues? The people — those with guns and those without — want it. Politicians, what's the holdup?