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'The New York Times' takes aim at gun industry

The 1.3 million circulation newspaper covered its front page with a strongly worded editorial calling for the US to restrict firearms. Appeal follows the San Bernardino killings, the deadliest mass shooting since 2012.

The 1.3 million circulation newspaper covered its front page with a strongly worded editorial calling for the US to restrict firearms. Appeal follows the San Bernardino killings, the deadliest mass shooting since 2012.

"The New York Times," in its first front-page editorial in nearly a century, called for outlawing the kinds of rifles used in the southern California shooting massacre this week that left 14 people dead.

The Saturday editorial entitled "End the Gun Epidemic in America" wades straight into the US national debate over access to firearms saying that political leaders were failing to protect the citizenry from the near-daily occurrence of mass shootings.

"It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency," reads the editorial.

The front page editorial comes three days after Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple, carried out the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, with legally purchased .223 caliber assault rifles.

"Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership," the editorial said.

The paper's publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., said the reason for running the editorial on the front page was to "to deliver a strong and visible statement of frustration and anguish about our country's inability to come to terms with the scourge of guns," he said in a statement. "Even in this digital age, the front page remains an incredibly strong and powerful way to surface issues that demand attention."

FBI officials have said they are investigating the shooting as an act of terrorism. That's appropriate, the editorial said, but it added that "the attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms."

Kalifornien; San Bernardino, Gedenken an die 14 Toten der blutigen Attacke

Federal authorities say that the two assault rifles and two handguns used in the San Bernardino massacre were all purchased legally in the United States.

Polarizing debate over intent of 18th century legal doctrines

The debate over gun control has long been one of the most contentious political debates in the United States, with the right to firearms ownership enshrined in the US Constitution's Second Amendment.

In a post on the website of the libertarian magazine "Reason," the newspaper was criticized for suggesting the federal government could ever hope to disarm its citizens as there are literally millions of weapons in circulation.

"What the Times is calling for is, beyond its countable costs in money and effort and the likely further erosion of civil liberties, also (as they surely know) calling for a massive political civil war the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time," senior editor Brian Doherty wrote.

US President Barack Obama, a Democrat, has

appealed for legislation to make it harder for criminals to buy guns.

He has noted mass shootings do not happen as frequently in other advanced countries and said the United States must address this problem.

But Republicans, who hold majorities in both houses of US Congress, and some Democrats - have long mounted

heavy opposition to gun control measures.

A day after the San Bernardino massacre a measure to increase background checks for prospective gun buyers was blocked by Republicans in the US Senate.

Historical footnote

The last time the New York Times ran an editorial on its front page was July 13, 1920. In it, the paper roundly criticized the Republican Party for nominating Warren G. Harding as the presidential candidate. Harding went on to win the general election later that year.

jar/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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