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Media becomes crusader for gun control in wake of Newtown massacre

A combination of handout pictures shows eight of the 20 young schoolchildren killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec.14, 2012. The children in the picture are (top row, left to right) Olivia Engel, Grace McDonnell, Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner; (bottom row, left to right) Jessica Rekos, Josephine Gay, Ana Marquez-Greene and Avielle Richman.


High-profile U.S. pundits and media outlets are taking the unusual step of becoming crusaders for increased gun control in the wake of the Newtown massacre.

On Tuesday, the front page of the New York Daily News ran an arresting photo illustration of the U.S. Capitol with the headline "BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS," and directed readers to a petition inside the paper that noted the number of Americans killed by guns in just six months "is equal to all American combat deaths over the entire length of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars."

Readers were urged to cut out and send the petition in to the paper's offices, calling on the U.S. Congress to "immediately ban all assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and institute comprehensive gun control."

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The petition, which marks a shift for the paper from mere editorializing to becoming an active player in shaping public policy, was initiated by Colin Myler, the Daily News's new editor, who once led its crosstown rival the New York Post. Mr. Myler was also editor of the British tabloid News of the World until News Corporation shuttered it amid the hacking scandal in July, 2011. He took over the Daily News in January.

"Under our new editor, he does not hesitate to take a stand on issues," said Robert Moore, the managing editor for news at the Daily News, who acknowledged he could not recall any time the paper had taken the step of publishing a petition. "Getting guns off the street is a big issue that's dear to him, and it's brought lots of accolades."

The paper also published a column by a law professor headlined "How bully pulpit can beat NRA bullying" and a lead editorial declaring "The NRA's comeuppance."

But while the Daily News is not new to the cause of gun control, even conservative voices in the media are joining the chorus. On Tuesday, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough warned that his fellow Republicans would further alienate voters if they failed to adapt to changing attitudes about guns.

"Do they want to be seen two years from now … as the party of Glocks, the party of Bushmasters, the party of combat-style military weapons, rapid-fire magazine clips?" he asked during Morning Joe. "If they want to go around and debate that for the next four years, good luck."

Mr. Scarborough served six years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

His statement echoed a heartfelt speech he made Monday, in which he said the Newtown shooting immediately changed his mind about some gun laws. "I knew that day that the ideologies of my past career were no longer relevant to the future that I want, that I demand for my children. Friday changed everything."

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About the Author
Senior Media Writer

Simon Houpt is the Globe and Mail's senior media writer, charged with covering the industry's transformation. He began his career with The Globe in 1999 as the paper's New York arts correspondent, covering the cultural life of that city through Canadian eyes. More

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