Do to guns what we did to cigarettes — make them culturally repellent

Photo: Alex-Wong-Getty-Images

Maybe you’ve wondered how much innocent blood needed to get spilled to finally convince Senate Republicans that gun violence has spiraled out of control, and we need to do something. The back-to-back mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde gave us the unhappy answer. One month later Congress presented President Joe Biden with a modest bipartisan gun bill to sign into law.

The new law is an excruciatingly small step, and even that was immediately overshadowed by the giant leap backward when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a more than 100-year old New York handgun permit law.

My specialty isn’t law. It’s mass culture. Most of my family went to law school. I went into advertising. That perspective tells me rather than despair over our failure to make more progress fixing the gun laws, what we need to do is fix our gun-obsessed culture.

We live in a society in which guns outnumber people. Even if the president’s whole wish list of gun measures made it into law, it’s going to take a long time to beat all those weapons back into plowshares.

But cultural change can happen quicker, particularly at a time when there’s so much graphic evidence the current gun culture has gone horrifically wrong.

My sense is we’re seeing early signs of that shift. Read more