“We need to understand that nobody has a crystal ball right now. There are not a lot of people who have a lot of confidence about the way things are going to shape up,” says Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords’s gun-safety organization. Squinting for a silver lining in the crisis, he told me that so many people staying at home has meant a drop-off in mass shootings, although the panic-buying of guns has spiked at the same time. It’s also meant that shelter in place is no longer a term used only during shootings. Maybe all the focus on public health will get people thinking differently about gun safety, perhaps the clearest example of American politics’ failure to produce policy that aligns with public opinion.
“At a time when [Americans’] health and safety is at greater risk,” Ambler said, “I do think that gun safety’s going to continue to break through as a kitchen-table issue.”
Translation: “gun safety” in this case means, at minimum, an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, waiting periods and “reg flag” laws.