NBCNews.com, The Rachel Maddow Show
David and Francine Wheeler, who lost their six year old son Ben
at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT last month:
A Pew Research Center report released late yesterday found a majority of Americans support a wide variety of new measures, some by enormous margins. For example, 85% of Americans favor making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks, while 80% support laws to prevent mentally ill people from purchasing guns.
It's worth emphasizing that in our current political climate, 80% of Americans don't agree on much, but they at least agree on measures like these. What's more, two-thirds of Americans (67%) favor creating a federal database to track gun sales.
Interestingly, nearly as many people (64%) support having more armed security in schools, boosted by large numbers of self-identified Republicans backing the idea.
Government's primary responsibility is the protection of the citizens it represents through collective defense. This is true of government at every level. Government is meant to protect us from enemies that we can not possibly be expected to individually protect ourselves against. That collective defense can take the form of gun ownership regulation, at least comparable to the regulation applied to owning and operating motor vehicles. That collective defense can also take the form of care for those in our society who are mentally ill: Mental Illness And Guns