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Ramesh Ponnuru: The gun debate needs to break old patterns

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Ramesh Ponnuru: The gun debate needs to break old patterns

The mass murder of children in Uvalde, Texas, coming just 10 days after the mass murder of shoppers in Buffalo, New York, moved former Sen. Bill Frist — who was the majority leader of a Republican Senate when President George W. Bush was in the White House — to issue a statement on guns: “We can find ways to preserve the Second Amendment while also safeguarding the lives of our children. … The time to act is now.”

The impulse to overcome long-standing divisions to find solutions is laudable. But the assumption behind Frist’s comment, and much of the rest of the national discussion of gun crime, is that progress is mostly a matter of getting enough Americans to have the right sentiments.

There are three deep problems that all who share those sentiments have not been able to get past.

 

First: The mainstream gun control agenda of the last 30 years would have negligible effects even if enacted.

When the Justice Department looked at the assault weapons ban in effect from 1995 to 2004, it concluded that a renewal’s “effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.” A 2020 review of the research on assault weapons bans by the Rand Corporation found that even the effects on mass shootings were “inconclusive.” Expanding background checks would achieve little, either: Most mass shooters have already passed them.

 

Second: Most people understand that these policies would have very small effects, and it makes support for them soft.

Advocates of expanded background checks often cite polls that show very large majorities in favor of them; some polls also show majority support for a ban on assault weapons. But polls also find considerable skepticism about the effects of such laws. In 2017, Gallup asked whether “new gun control laws,” if passed, would reduce the number of mass shootings. A 42% plurality said they wouldn’t, while another 16% said they would matter “a little.”

Numbers like that one help to explain why opponents of new restrictions can prevail even when they are outnumbered politically. The opponents, who say the new laws would be intolerable restrictions on their rights or would lead to them, are intensely motivated. A lot of supporters are lukewarm. And that in turn helps explain why even in a Democratic-run Senate in 2013, a new assault weapons ban garnered only 40 votes.

 

Third: More ambitious gun control proposals could have a substantial effect, but are nonstarters.

A rigorously enforced ban on the civilian possession of handguns would slash gun violence. But the latest poll has only 19% of the public backing that idea. Support for it has been falling for 60 years. The Second Amendment of the Constitution bars it. And even if could somehow be enacted anyway, it would be impossible to enforce effectively in a country estimated to have nearly 400 million firearms — a country, moreover, where nearly half of adults live in a household with guns.

 

None of this means that Americans should give up and accept the current levels of bloodshed. But it does suggest that there’s a need to break out of the standard gun control debates.

In particular, it suggests that the authorities need better ways to identify individuals who pose a serious threat of lethal violence and to act on that assessment. “Red-flag laws,” which allow the disarmament of dangerous individuals, should be explored, although it remains to be seen whether they can make a difference while respecting civil liberties. State governments should also institute a duty to report serious threats: It’s remarkable how many mass shooters offered warning signs before committing their atrocities.

Better enforcement of existing laws, such as those against proxy purchases of guns for those who can’t legally own them, and against falsifying information on background checks, might also help reduce gun violence generally (if not mass shootings specifically) without adding burdens to law-abiding gun owners and thus yielding the usual political impasse.

Such policies do not promise advocates the catharsis of lashing out at political and cultural enemies, which is one of the draws of ritualized gun arguments. But those arguments have led nowhere. Let’s act now, yes, but only after we think.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the editor of National Review and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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Minnesota United gives away late lead in Miami

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Minnesota United gives away late lead in Miami

For so much of the second half, Minnesota looked comfortable and ready to take a much-needed victory.

Shockingly, Inter Miami, the second-worst goal-scoring team in MLS notched two goals in the final three minutes to flip the script and take a 2-1 victory in the first MLS meeting between the two teams.

“[We] put ourselves in a great spot,” manager Adrian Heath said. “Put ourselves in a really good position. We’re not doing enough, it doesn’t look as though it’s enough to concede goals and lose games.”

Inter Miami forward Indiana Vassilev only made it into the game as a late-game bench substitution, but he made the most of his opportunity scoring in the 87th and 90th minute to give his team a victory, surpassing Minnesota’s one-goal lead it held since the 65th minute.

The Loons’ defense had kept Minnesota in the game for each chance Inter Miami had for the first 86 minutes, but the team couldn’t get the stops near the end to come up with the victory.

“At those times of the game, you need to do whatever you can to just beat your man,” Loons defender Michael Boxall said.

Minnesota’s victory looked nearly locked up as the Loons held the 1-0 difference into the final five minutes of the game. That goal followed a resilient start to the second half after many chances weren’t finished.

The Minnesota goal scorer was Luis Amarilla, who put the ball past the Inter Miami goalkeeper in tight in the 65th minute. It was his first goal in MLS play since March 19.

Amarilla was in such a position to score the goal so close to the keeper because of an acrobatic one-touch centering pass from Franco Fragapane. The play all began from Emmanuel Reynoso getting the ball on the right side of the attacking zone. He cut towards the middle and sent a lofting kick that found the airborne Fragapane for his assist.

While Minnesota finally found the back of the net in the back half of the game, there was no shortage of missed opportunities earlier in the contest.

“We’re not good enough at one end, and we’re not good enough at the other, and that’s not a good recipe,” Heath said. “We’ve got to get more and more determination to get on the things in the box and we’ve certainly got to defend the goal better.”

By the end of the game, Inter Miami had eight shots on target, while Minnesota had just one, the Amarilla goal.

The loss marks the first since Minnesota announced Heath’s two-year contract extension through 2024 on Thursday. The defeat also adds to a 1-6-1 stretch over the Loons’ last eight games, including Saturday night.

Heath said on Wednesday that the goal was to come away with four points in this road trip at Inter Miami on Saturday and on Wednesday at L.A. Galaxy. With the loss to Inter Miami, that goal is no longer possible.

The Loons must keep looking forward to get back on track and into playoff contention. After the loss on Saturday, Minnesota sits 11th in the Western Conference Standings, five points outside of the seventh spot, the cutoff for the playoffs.

“The good thing is that it’s a quick turnaround,” Boxall said. “Not quite looking ahead to L.A. just yet, we still need to process this game and figure out what we need to address, because that should be three points we’re taking home tonight.”

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Twins record second shutout in three days in win over Rockies

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Twins record second shutout in three days in win over Rockies

Puffy white clouds filled the blue skies above Target Field and sunlight bounced off buildings that make up the Minneapolis skyline. It was the kind of summer night at the ballpark that Minnesotans dream about throughout the long winter months.

It was the perfect night at Target Field and the hometown team, well, they were nearly perfect, too. Twins pitchers gave up just one hit (and five walks), and the team captured a first-inning lead on its way to a 6-0 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night at Target Field.

A day after getting shut out for the 10th time this season, tying the league lead, Luis Arraez and Byron Buxton made sure early on that the Twins wouldn’t suffer the same fate. Arraez snapped an 0-for-11 stretch to begin the game and Buxton, back in the lineup for the first time since Tuesday, followed that up with his first triple since 2019.

After missing time this week after his knee flared up, Buxton turned on the burners, with a sprint speed of 29.3 feet/second (30 ft/sec is elite) on the triple, losing his helmet along the way. When he reached the base, he pounded his chest a couple times, smacked his hands together and let out a roar.

While the Twins left Buxton on third, they added on throughout the game, tacking on a run in the second on Arraez’s second hit of the game, two more in the fifth and two more in the seventh.

Alex Kirilloff drove in three of those runs, one on a sacrifice fly and the other on a double off the right field wall, bringing home Max Kepler — who walked three times in the game — and Kyle Garlick. The double was his fourth in eight games since being recalled from Triple-A.

All that offense came in support of Chris Archer, who worked five innings and allowed just one hit — a single to former Twin C.J. Cron in the second inning — and a walk in his outing.  Archer pitched out of that second-inning jam, retiring the next three batters in a row, the first of 12 straight that he sent down to conclude his start.

His start was followed by a scoreless inning each from Jharel Cotton and Griffin Jax and two from Tyler Thornburg. Twins pitchers have now thrown two shutouts in their past three games, and in Friday’s loss, they gave up just one run.

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A Pride timeline: Gay rights in Minnesota from 1858-2022

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A Pride timeline: Gay rights in Minnesota from 1858-2022

1858: Joseph Israel Lobdell, born Lucy Lobdell, is arrested for “impersonating a man.” A judge in the rural camp community of Forest City, Minn., sided with Lobdell, ruling that he did not act unlawfully.

1877: Minneapolis rules crossdressing as illegal, putting gender-nonconforming Minnesotans at risk for imprisonment.

1969: The Stonewall riots begin in New York City after police raids occur in the gay-friendly bars and community spaces of Lower Manhattan. These riots serve as a public turning point in American LGBTQ+ history.

May 18, 1969: University of Minnesota alumni found Fight Repression of Erotic Expression, or FREE, the first LGBTQ+ rights organization in the state. Founders Jack Baker and Michael McConnell become the first same-sex couple in the nation to apply for a marriage license, an application that is rejected by Hennepin County. Their legal case is dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court in one sentence.

1972: The first Twin Cities Pride celebration is held in Minneapolis’ Loring Park.

Dec. 9, 1972: Minnesota state Sen. Allan Henry Spear indicates he is gay in an interview with the Minneapolis Star, making him the first openly gay state legislator in the United States.

June 1982: Bruce Brockway becomes the first documented recipient of an HIV diagnosis in Minnesota. After his diagnosis, he founded the Minnesota AIDS Project to provide resources to HIV-positive Minnesotans.

1993: Gender- and sexuality-based discrimination is outlawed in Minnesota, making it the first state in the nation to adopt the policy.

1997: Sicaŋgu Lakota man Nicholas Metcalf and his partner, Korean-American Edd Lee, found the Minnesota Men of Color, an organization that focuses on the well-being of men, women and gender-nonconforming people of color.

2012: Amendment 1, which limits marriage rights to only heterosexual couples, is rejected by the majority of Minnesota voters. Same-sex marriage is legalized in the state.

June 2015: The U.S. Supreme Court releases a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges finding that same-sex marriage cannot be banned in any state and must be recognized nationally. Gay marriage is legalized.

June 25-26, 2022: After two years of pandemic-related cancellations, the Twin Cities Pride parade and festival returns to Minneapolis.

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