People once believed that Big Tobacco would never be defeated, that it had legislators in its pocket, and that it carried such power and influence those laws curtailing tobacco products would never work.
That proved not to be so once the clear link between smoking and cancer was established, and there is no doubt that the tobacco lobby has been greatly diminished as a result.
The gun lobby right now looks a lot like the tobacco lobby, all-powerful, all influencing but the link that has been established between the safety of our children and the product they peddle has finally been irredeemably established. (Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland has just written an excellent comparison of the two.)
The children of Newtown, Connecticut have made that connection real and vital for this generation of Americans in an utterly indelible way. After Newtown there can be no going back on gun control.
The NRA mantra that guns had nothing to do with the violence in America is clearly false based on all known evidence.
In countries where guns are not available the number of deaths from homicides is dramatically lower.
Here are the 2010 figures, adjusted for population differential.
Number of Murders by Firearms, US, 2010: 8,775
Number of Murders by firearms, Britain, 2010*: 58
(equivalent to 290 US murders)
You can go around any country in the world with strict gun control laws and the same reality hits home. The more guns are available the more people die.
Such reality has finally permeated the American consciousness after Newtown, which is why the NRA, still shuttered in their own little archipelago, is unable to see what the real world is experiencing.
Like Big Tobacco though their power will surely ebb now that the link between cause and effect has clearly been established.
This country has a magnificent constitution, one of the great documents in world history, starting with the immortal phrase “We the People,"
But we cannot be bound only by the thoughts and opinions of men from the 18th century who know nothing of what the deadly meaning of the term the “right to bear arms” nowadays means.
We need to have a living constitution as it is experienced by each generation with changing needs and priorities. After Newtown that has never been more obvious—and the people now see it.