爱思英语编者按:美国国会参议院拒绝通过两党关于扩大对购枪者背景调查的立法,使奥巴马总统管制枪支的计划受挫。 法案建议扩大目前的对购枪者的背景调查,包括在枪支展览和网上购枪者的调查;禁止购买攻击武器以及高能弹药。参院阻挠法案被看作是赞成拥枪团体的胜利,这些组织说建议草案违反了持枪的权利。尽管大多数美国人支持“枪控法案”,但美国参议院日前拒绝通过有关扩大购枪者背景调查的跨党派法案。只有54名参议员投票支持,没有获得60张支持票的最低票数。美国总统奥巴马对这一结果非常失望和愤怒,称这天是华盛顿不光彩的一天。奥巴马表示:“枪支游说者及其盟友就该法案撒了谎,而那些投反对票的参议员出于恐惧和政治原因而作出让步。”

The Economist explains
Why it is nearly impossible for America to pass gun-control laws
为什么在美国通过控枪法案几乎是不可能的?
 
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ONE day after 14 people died and 21 were injured in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, America's Senate defeated a bill that would have prevented people on the terror watch list from buying guns. Making things a bit more difficult for people bent on killing Americans might sound like a rather moderate reform. But 54 conservative senators determined that such a rule might impinge on the gun rights of innocent Americans who were mistakenly placed on the watch-list—a risk assessment that is hard to square with the calculus used by many of the same lawmakers who oppose resettling Syrian refugees lest one of them turn into a terrorist. In the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 20 children and 6 staff members in 2012, a bipartisan bill to enhance background checks for gun purchasers came up a few votes short. It was voted down last week as well. It seems even the mildest measure to curb guns in America is doomed to fail. Why has Congress found it impossible to pass gun-control legislation in the wake of a grim drumbeat of mass killings?
 
在14人死亡、21人受伤于加州圣贝纳迪诺的一场大规模枪击事件后一天,美国参议院否决了一项本可以防止在恐怖分子嫌疑名单上的人购买枪支的提案。给醉心于杀戮美国人的人多少增加一点行凶难度可能听起来是一个相当温和的改革。但是,54名保守派参议员坚持认为,这样一项法律可能会侵犯被错误地添加到嫌疑人名单上的无辜美国人的拥枪权——作为一种风险评估,这同那些反对重新安置叙利亚难民以免其中的某一人变成恐怖分子的议员中的许多人所打的如意算盘,简直是天壤之别。在造成了20名儿童和6名员工死亡的2012年康涅狄格州纽顿校园枪击事件之后,一项由两党共同提出的旨在强化购枪者背景检查的提案曾经遭遇了少几票的情况。这项提案在上周的投票中又被否决了。在美国,就连最温和的控枪措施似乎也注定会失败。那么,为什么国会在一次惨烈的大规模枪击事件后发现通过控枪立法是不可能的呢?
 
Many people attribute the phenomenon to the power of the National Rifle Association (NRA), one of America's richest and most influential lobbying groups. But there is more to the story. The NRA builds its prestige on a constituency that is more strident and more politically active than proponents of gun-control. So while 55% of Americans believe that gun laws should be “more strict” (as compared to 11% who want them to be “less strict” and 33% who are satisfied with the laws as they stand), gun owners are twice as likely to sound off to their congressmen and nearly five times more apt to contribute money to candidates or interest groups that reflect their views on guns. America's electoral structure also lends NRA supporters outsize influence. As many gun-rights advocates live in rural areas where a few votes can swing a congressional election, “[t]he NRA's job is made easier,” Stephen Hill and Robert Richie write. The group “can target its resources at the three dozen swing districts like a military strategist dividing quadrants on a battlefield”.
 
许多人把这种现象归因于美国最富有且最具影响力的游说团体之一——全国步枪协会(NRA)的势力。但是,事情要复杂的多。NRA的影响力是建立在一个比控枪的支持者更能表达自己的意见而且在政治上也更加活跃的选民阵营上的。因此,虽然55%的美国人认为枪支法案应当“更加严格”(与之相比,想让枪支法案不那么严格的人为11%,对现行的枪支法案表示满意的人为33%),拥枪者可能会以两倍于他们的势力向议员反映自己意见,并且可能以5倍的意愿把钱捐献给代表他们枪支观点的候选人和利益集团。美国的选举结构也让NRA的支持者具有巨大的影响力。由于许多拥枪权的支持者大都居住在那些少数几张选票就能够影响一次国会选举的乡村地区,“NRA的工作就变得容易了,”Stephen Hill和Robert Richie写道。这个团体“能够像军事战略家在战场上划分战区那样将其资源对准36个摇摆选区。”
 
Opponents of gun control routinely argue that the Second Amendment's “right to bear arms” ensures unfettered access to guns. Seven years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that a ban on handguns in the home was an affront to the Second Amendment. But since the ruling in District of Columbia v Heller, the justices have refused to embellish this right. On December 7th, the Court declined to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of a law in Illinois that banned semi-automatic assault rifles and large-capacity magazines. Only two justices dissented from this refusal, indicating that a solid majority on the Supreme Court would vote to uphold many gun regulations that Congress may yet pass.
 
控枪的反对者通常会指出,宪法第二修正案的“拥枪权”确保了对于枪支的不受限制的获取。最高法院曾经在7年前判定,一项禁止在家中携带手枪的禁令是对第二修正案的一种蔑视。但是,自哥伦比亚特区诉海勒案的判决以来,法官们一直拒绝援引这项权利。12月7日,最高法院曾经拒绝听取伊利诺伊州一项禁止半自动步枪和大容量弹匣的法律是在挑战宪法的案子。当时,只有两位法官对此表示了异议,这表明最高法院的大多数法官会投票支持大多数国会可能会通过的枪支监管立法。
 
Recent mass shootings may mobilise advocates of gun restrictions and could conceivably even spur legislators to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 or pursue other gun legislation. But there is reason to wonder how much of a difference these reforms would make. American civilians own far more guns than anybody else in the world. The land of the free is home to an estimated 270m guns, enough for nearly nine in ten Americans. (That's compared to 46m guns for the runner-up, India, with a population quadruple that of America.) So even if all new gun purchases were banned tomorrow, there are enough rifles floating around the country to fuel countless more mass shootings. Some countries, notably Australia, have rounded up privately owned weapons and seen a dramatic decline in suicides and homicides. But no one in America is proposing such a radical solution to its rash of tragic shootings.
 
最近的几起大规模枪击事件可能会将枪支限制的支持者动员起来,甚至有可能刺激议员们重新提出在2004年就已过期了的攻击性武器禁令或者是寻求其他的枪支立法。但是,有理由对这些改革会带来多大的不同产生疑问。美国公民比这个世界上其他任何人都拥有多得多的枪支。这块自由之地是大约2.7亿支各种枪支的大本营,足以让每十个美国人拥有接近7件武器。(与之相比,排在第二的是印度,它的人口是美国的4倍,枪支为4600万支)因此,就算是所有的新的枪支购买立即被禁止,也会有足够的枪支在这个国家中四处流动,以至于引发数不胜数的更多的大规模的枪击事件。有的国家,其中最明显的是澳大利亚,已经收缴了私人所拥有的枪支,并且见证了自杀和枪击案件的急剧下降。但是,美国目前尚无一人提出一项如此彻底的针对其此起彼伏的悲剧性枪击事件的解决方案。