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Rare New York Times front-page editorial urging gun control draws praise, ire

The New York Times stunned readers Saturday, publishing a highly charged editorial on gun control on its sought-after front page in the wake of the California shootings — the first editorial to grace the paper's cover in 95 years.

Conservative blogger shows his anger over article by shooting bullets into it

Many criticized the New York Times editorial, including Conservative blogger Erick Erickson, who says he shot bullets through his copy and encouraged others to do the same. (Erick Erickson/Twitter)

The New York Times stunned readers Saturday, publishing a highly charged editorial on gun control on its sought-after front page in the wake of the California shootings — the first editorial to grace the paper's cover in 95 years.

The 446-word piece, titled "The Gun Epidemic," bashes elected leaders for rejecting restrictions on guns and for failing to keep Americans safe.

Elected leaders "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," it reads.

"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."

The editorial calls for greater gun regulation and a drastic reduction in the number of available firearms, with hopes of "eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition."

Republicans and Democrats alike have been criticized this week for their prayers for the victims of the San Bernardino shootings. Many have accused them of hypocrisy given their stance on gun control legislation.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the Times' publisher, posted a brief message online explaining the reason for editorial.

"We [are publishing this] today 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.

"Even in this digital age, the front page remains an incredibly strong and powerful way to surface issues that demand attention."

The last time the newspaper ran an editorial on the front page was in June 1920, in response to the Republican presidential nomination of Warren G. Harding, who went on to win the election later that year and become president.

The unusually-placed editorial got a lot of people talking.

Some tweeted their support:

Others were critical, questioning its relevance and impact.

Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told CBS News that the editorial was "typical liberal claptrap from the New York Times." Instead, he suggested that more should be done to institutionalize the mentally ill.

Fellow Republican candidate Donald Trump was also asked by reporters about the editorial, replying that the victims of the California and Paris shootings "could have protected themselves if they had had guns."

Some took their frustrations even further.

Conservative blogger Erick Erickson says he shot bullets through a copy of Saturday's editorial to show his anger.

Erickson posted a photo of what he said was his bullet-riddled copy of the Times online, along with an accompanying post explaining why he did it.

"The United States suffered its worst terrorist attacks since September 11 and the New York Times's response is that all law-abiding citizens need their guns taken away. Screw them," he wrote in a blog post.

"This is what I think of the New York Times editorial today."

He encouraged others to shoot bullet holes through the editorial and post their results online. Erickson did not say what he shot the editorial with, but he posted photos he took at a gun range earlier on Saturday to his social media accounts.

His actions were subsequently mocked on Twitter.

Some made fun of his aim, which prompted a further response from Erickson.

"I wanted to shoot it from top to bottom. I only had seven bullets and made the most of it."

With files from Reuters

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