Weaning Away from Smoking and Shooting

As politicians in Washington slow-dance to the Second Amendment, elsewhere in American culture a different music about gun control is being heard.

On the Daily Show, sportscaster Bob Costas tells Jon Stewart about the uproar over his mild comments linking gun use to football violence, while a New York Times business columnist fills his space with 15 shooting death reports across the country in the past week.

The struggle over the lethal effects of a legal product is beginning to resemble a decades-long effort to make millions aware of cigarette dangers and suggest the way forward may lie less in sweeping legislation than in small steps to curtail its use and, most important, heighten public awareness of the dangers.

Just as tobacco lobbyists forestalled legislative action against smoking for decades, the firearms makers’ creatures of the NRA have the financial and electoral clout to limit sweeping gun reform. Meanwhile, local smoking bans were being met at first with outrage but slowly gained public acceptance as evidence of their efficacy accumulated.

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Author: ROBERT STEIN