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Answers to gun violence may lie in nonsmoking campaigns


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True enough for now. But after Sandy Hook, many law-abiding gun owners may realize that gun violence in general requires curbs on the types of guns sold and more background checks on would-be gun buyers.

Just a few decades ago, a big decline in smoking was downright unthinkable. Smoking was even portrayed as glamorous, just as violence in movies and video games is now seen as “cool.” While official warnings in 1964 about the health effects of smoking on individual smokers helped put a spotlight on the issue, it was not until a later rise in public concern about the innocent recipients of tobacco smoke that pushed smokers toward not smoking or stepping outside to do so. A moral shift had begun. A nonsmoking ethos set in.

This social stigma against smoking was to protect the innocent, and that idea should now apply to guns as well. And just as the nonsmoking movement started first with local and state bans on public smoking, so, too, have many cities and states moved to curb guns or tighten background checks.

So look less to Congress for ideas to prevent another Sandy Hook and more to a shift in opinion polls, a decline in gun sales, or even more turn-in-your-gun events at police stations. Better yet, ask former smokers from the 1960s or ’70s why they don’t smoke anymore.


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