THE BLOG
12/19/2012 12:13 pm ET Updated Feb 18, 2013

The Dodd-Frank Act Paved the Way for Effective Gun Laws

I admit that I am no expert on the gun industry, but I am sufficiently experienced in politics, lobbying, finance and public advocacy to know that the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting made it possible to change our gun laws.

I remember a time when even the most optimistic consumer advocate believed that the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series before banks and credit card companies would be reined in; that the lords of high finance were untouchable because Wall Street put "their" guys in Congress and the "the fix was in." It was political suicide to oppose their wishes.

After decades of supporting a sensible regulatory structure amnesia set in and, bowing to the pressure of an all out assault by the financial services lobby, Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act. The American economic system devolved into the Wild West, mortgage-backed securities were hawked more effectively than war bonds and an economic reign of terror ensued. And just when it seemed like the End of Days, it turned out the common wisdom was wrong. Indeed, the fix was in, but the folks who put it there finally fell from grace and lost their stranglehold. Suddenly, we got change, but not because of any big white hat moment in Washington. Things changed because our nation hit a tipping point.

The Dodd-Frank Act was unthinkable before the financial fallout of 2007-2009. And while the solution may bear the name of its legislative sponsors, the government ultimately brought change because the people demanded it. Americans came out from under the ether, realized they had been bamboozled by "the smartest guys in the room," and were mad as hell. The pendulum swung. The whole architecture of that swindle was exposed for what it was: a way to commandeer the accumulated wealth of entire communities by creating an irresistible promise: the illusion of easy money.

Guns don't promise easy money. When it comes to firearms, the promise is total power, and it is no illusion. The problem is that they give that power indiscriminately to anyone who holds them. It is more power than anyone should have. It's seductive. There's a reason guns are lumped together under the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: like booze and tobacco, guns are intoxicating. Like tobacco, it's big business. And I think the majority of Americans now believe that guns, like tobacco, can and should be heavily regulated.

The whole byzantine architecture of lobbyists and lawyers and gun manufacturers was on display in all of its hideous glory last week at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. This time, hopefully, the insanity of it all sunk in. Perhaps this time, this nation is finally ready to tell the gun industry and its arrogant mouthpiece the NRA, "Enough!"

On the pro-gun side, the Newtown Massacre highlights the continuing war between good and evil (and until the Forces of Good win, teachers and school administrators should be "packin'," according to a Texas Congressman). It's all about the 2nd Amendment (never mind that there's a significant difference between a Bushmaster and a single-shot musket). Never mind that we are no longer in danger of an invasion by a colonial power. And never mind that we have the strongest military in the world.

I'm dog-tired of those who privilege personal likes and dislikes over the common weal. There are other status symbols for all those gun guys and gals out there who feel the need to flex. As for the other big claim, arming one's fears at the cost of innocent lives is not a legitimate reason to make firearms so widely available. As Senator-Elect Elizabeth Warren said in an email this morning, "No one needs military-grade assault weapons to hunt, and no one needs Rambo-style high capacity magazines to protect their family from intruders." That's why we have law enforcement.

Gun advocates like to say that the government wants to take away "your" guns, but it's not true. The American people want to take them away.

There have been other shootings, of course, but I believe this time around we are finally going to see the people stand up -- for our children, our communities and our nation. I think more parents are going to start talking to their kids about the absurdities put forth as manhood in movies, and the deglorification of violence in the gaming industry will follow on the heels of that trend. Recreation is not more important than the well being of our children. It's time to put to rest this idea that "real" men (and women) need to know how to use a gun. Remember when real men and women needed to know good manners to get ahead? Remember It's A Wonderful Life? Remember when there was clout in helping a senior cross the street? OK, so maybe that's a bit too much to ask... So, let's at least talk about guns and the way they are regulated.

Democrats are being strategic, going after high-capacity magazines. Unfortunately, it is a baby step at a time when giant strides are required.

One company has seen the writing on the wall and is getting rid of its gun-related business.

I believe that we must attack the problem on a systemic level. Just like Americans finally stood up to the financial services industry, we need to face down the NRA (with all of its A-rated politicians and slick marketing). For those who need the thrill of the hunt, you can have your hunting rifles. But if you're not in law enforcement: no concealed weapons. More and more we are seeing ordinary citizens armed to the teeth across this country because the gun lobby sells fear, but in the process they create it. The question should be: how much more should this fear be allowed to cost our society?
As with Dodd-Frank, the government is simply going to represent the people. America is ready to crack down on the proliferation of combat weaponry.

Elizabeth Warren did not become a Senator by presidential decree. She was voted in by the people. And the people who voted for her knew what they were voting for. They were tired of being treated like a piñata by the banking industry. She was the visionary behind the centerpiece of the Dodd-Frank Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Dodd-Frank was one of those magnificent moments in legislative history when our representatives actually represented us.

If Dodd-Frank can be passed, and the CFPB charged to create robust consumer protections to shield us against the development and promotion of dangerous consumer products by the financial services industry (once presumed to be unassailable), surely we should be protected against the weapons that endanger us all. Once again we are at a tipping point and our leaders must find the backbone to do the will of the people and stand up to the gun lobby.

Subscribe to the Politics email.
How will Trump’s administration impact you?