Is now the time to talk about gun control?

The flag over the White House was at half staff last night. The flags around the Washington Monument were at half staff last night.

Because a psychopath walked into an elementary school in Connecticut and killed 26 people, 20 of them children. The gunman killed his mother at their home before the rampage. And when he was done, he killed himself. Some reports indicate the guns were registered in his mother’s name because he was too young to buy them himself.

The national response is horror. Like it was this year, when the gunman entered a mall theater in Aurora, Colo., during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” set off gas canisters and opened fire, killing 12. Like it was last year, when Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and at least 17 others were shot Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire outside a supermarket where Ms. Giffords was meeting with constituents. Like it was in 2009, when 13 soldiers and civilians were killed and more than two dozen wounded when a gunman walked into the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas, and opened fire. Like it was in 2007, when an outburst of gunfire at a Virginia Tech dormitory, followed two hours later by a ruthless string of attacks at a classroom building, killed 32 students, faculty and staff and left about 30 others injured yesterday in the deadliest shooting rampage in the nation’s history.

The sentences above contain the words various media organizations used to describe the horror.

In the past 50 years, 11 of the 20 worst mass shootings in the world have happened in the U.S., and of those 11 massacres, five have happened since 2007.

We can react like Republican Mike Huckabee on Fox News and say something stupid like:

We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?

Or we can react like Republican New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actually address the issue:

With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.

There’s a petition at the White House Web site that says this:

Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress.

The goal of this petition is to force the Obama Administration to produce legislation that limits access to guns. While a national dialogue is critical, laws are the only means in which we can reduce the number of people murdered in gun related deaths.

Powerful lobbying groups allow the ownership of guns to reach beyond the Constitution’s intended purpose of the right to bear arms. Therefore, Congress must act on what is stated law, and face the reality that access to firearms reaches beyond what the Second Amendment intends to achieve.

The signatures on this petition represent a collective demand for a bipartisan discussion resulting in a set of laws that regulates how a citizen obtains a gun.

When I last looked, there were more than 75,000 signatures on it.

We as citizens can’t make laws limiting the availability of guns. Congress and state legislatures are busy passing laws that make it easier to get a gun. Those elected officials have to change those laws or be voted out of office.

But our legislators have shown they don’t have the backbone to stand up to the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment fetishists. And now, despite the demands over the years to address gun violence, have 20 dead elementary school children.

Will we finally end the discussion below this time and actually do something?


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