April 11, 2018-
Survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., joined the chorus of Americans denouncing the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) influence on elected officials over the gun control issue. But will this moment lead to substantive change in the nation’s gun laws, or will it be subsumed into Washington’s larger gridlock — forgotten until the next school shooting, as has happened repeatedly in the past?
There may be a clue in the history of the regulation of another dangerous product, cigarettes. Gun-control groups say the firearms industry is using some of the same tactics the tobacco lobby used to forestall regulations for most of the 20th century, including the suppression of potentially damaging research and casting the issue in terms of “rights” and “freedom.” But the record shows that over the course of several decades, and over the well-funded opposition of a powerful industry, public-health advocates (mostly) prevailed in the battle against smoking.