Amid the barrage of humorous memes, status updates, tweets, and reports emanating from the second presidential debate, one moment was mostly lost, perhaps misfiled among those infamous “binders full of women.” When the candidates were asked to address the circulation of assault weapons, President Obama, who answered first, hinted toward an outright ban, arguing that weapons designed for soldiers “don’t belong on streets.” The president then shifted focus on the recent up-tick in violence in his hometown, Chicago, citing a comprehensive policy prescription involving cooperation among schools, faith groups, and law enforcement. He didn’t mention it, but in many cities this also involves intervention by current or former gang members, not to mention ex-offenders.
Governor Romney, eager to keep that NRA endorsement, stood firm against new legislation, erroneously stating that automatic weapons were already illegal in the United States. Then, following President Obama’s transition, he went further, seeking to “out-prove” the president on the issue of urban violence. Romney agreed with Obama that “good schools” are essential, but argued that a key variable explaining America’s “culture of violence” (his words) was…single parenthood. “But gosh, to tell our kids, before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone….Because if there’s a two parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically….So we can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and give them opportunity and bring them into the American system.”