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Let’s stop the gun violence

Published: Wed, December 19, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Dan Gross

Hartford Courant

This time the shots didn’t ring out in a movie theater in Colorado, or outside of a Safeway in Arizona, or a spa in Wisconsin, or a temple or a college campus. This time it was children, elementary school boys and girls in Newtown, their bodies carted out like battlefield casualties.

A few days earlier there was the mass shooting of Christmas shoppers at an Oregon mall. The week before, it was the murder-suicide by an NFL player. And every day there were — and are — the less prominent shootings that claim 100,000 victims every year in America, 30,000 of them deaths.

We all know the post-shooting drill: Politicians will cue up their condolences, and run for cover from Americans demanding solutions to our nation’s gun violence epidemic. It is “not the time” to discuss solutions, they will claim — then wait for the nation’s attention to be diverted by the next turn of the news cycle.

There are two basic ways we can respond to America’s relentless gun carnage. One is resignation at our leaders’ failure to address gun violence as we do every other public health and safety problem, and acceptance that periodic mass shootings and 87 gun deaths a day is simply a fact of life in our country. This view assumes that Americans are simply more prone to violence than other peoples, and that we are unavoidably fated to live awash with guns, with no realistic way to ever control dangerous people’s access to high-powered weaponry.

Give up, say the cynics. The gun lobby can’t be beaten.

Reload, says the gun lobby. Arm the movie theaters, the temples, the colleges and elementary schools. You can’t stop the shootings, you can only shoot back.

Dark vision

We must reject that dark vision — and most Americans do. We believe that Americans are at least as decent and good and peaceful as people of other nations. We also believe that this great nation — which has led the world in war and peace, in economy and medicine and so much else — is at least as capable of tackling the problem of gun violence as the rest of the industrialized world has already done.

We are better than this, an emerging majority says.

Cynicism and resignation, we believe, are weapons as destructive as the semiautomatic AK-47 clones so readily available to dangerous people in America.

More and more Americans are raising their voices, and engaging in an honest, open, thoughtful conversation about the need to address our gun violence problem. This conversation is respectful of the now-recognized Second Amendment rights of law-abiding, responsible citizens, while deeply aware of the public safety risks posed by guns, and open to policies that can keep guns out of dangerous hands and off the streets.

This conversation is happening in promising — often surprising — ways. Bob Costas introduced the subject of gun violence in America to “Football Night in America.” Bill O’Reilly expressed support for stronger gun policies. Before that, George Bush’s speechwriter Michael Gerson and Rupert Murdoch called for stronger gun laws.

Background checks

GOP pollster Frank Luntz found that 74 percent of gun owners and NRA members support expanding Brady background checks to all gun sales. (Under existing law, no background checks are required for 40 percent of gun sales.)

And the Supreme Court (per conservative Justice Antonin Scalia) has held that while the Second Amendment does not allow the government to deprive responsible citizens of guns in the home for self-defense, the Constitution also allows the people, through their elected representatives, to reasonably regulate guns and their use.

Victims who lost loved ones in Aurora, Tucson, and other mass shootings are leading the way, calling for action to spare other families the tragedies they have suffered. This week, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said it was time to engage in this conversation and address what can be done to reduce gun deaths and injuries.

Americans are coming together in that vast middle policy ground, and speaking out for common-sense laws that will prevent much of the bloodshed to which we are far too accustomed. After all, in America it’s often the people who lead.

Now it’s time for our leaders to follow.

Dan Gross is president of the Brady Campaign and Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence based in Washington. He wrote this for the Hartford Courant. Distributed by MCT.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


1dmacker(539 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Murder has always been against the law.
Why then every time a person commits a mass murder the call goes out for new gun laws?
It has been reported that Connecticut has an "assalt weapon" ban. How did that work for them?

My heart goes out to those victims and their families, but a knee jerk move to ban guns is not the appropriate response.

Our mental health services are in shambles. This is the thread that links all of the recent shooting incidents, but few want to talk about that problem. Why is that?

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2uselesseater(229 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Stop the hysteria and stop duping the gullible public you pathetic media manipulators.

When was an assault weapon used in one of these killings?

Clearly, one wasn't used in the latest school shootings, nor when the NFL player killed his girlfriend, nor was one used in the attack on Congree Woman Gabbi Giffords.

In the Giffords shooting the weapon was a 9mm Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol. In the NFL murder suicide by Jovan Belcher the weapon was a handgun. In the Connecticut school shooting the weapon was a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle.

All of those weapons are civilian grade. You get one bullet ejected for each click of the trigger. They are not machine guns and they are not military weapons.

But, the author to illicit confusion and stir the common pot said, "Cynicism and resignation, we believe, are weapons as destructive as the semiautomatic AK-47".

An AK-47 wasn't used in these high profile mass killings. Nor was any similar military grade fully auto machine gun.

We don't need gun bans and limits, what we need is a cap on the media. An end to the 24/7 junk news cycle that prays upon victims to push political agendas and distort reality.

While 30,000 deaths a year is nothing to ignore, what kills more US citizens each year?

Intentional self-harm (suicide): 36,909

Oddly, homicide shows up much later down the list with about 17,000 deaths a year.

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3uselesseater(229 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

The AK-47 is a convenient dupe in the conversation too since it's not a machine gun, but operator select-able.

"right thumb and has three settings: forward = safe, center = full-auto and backward = semi-auto"

But technically, the AK-47 is a machine gun and fully auto since it has the capability to be operator used that way with a simple selection at any time.

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4Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

What exactly are they going to do? If someone wants a gun, they will get it. Ban or whatever won't stop them.

(Under existing law, no background checks are required for 40 percent of gun sales.)

This I didn't know.

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5VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

I am an advocate for the Second Amendment, and always will be.

The sad part of all of this is the woman who owned those guns (the shooters mother) was killed by her own gun because she did not keep them locked up and away from a son whom she knew was mentally unstable. Once that son discovered he was gong to be sent away, he took action and it was not pretty.

Gun ownership comes with responsibilities and it appears this mother's lack of that cost her the biggest price of all, her life.

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6saddad(655 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

What Id like is the removal of the giant guns that have been pointed at my head my whole life. There is a reason we havnt put down the nuke tipped ballistic missles. The reason is we dont trust the other guys to. Nearly everyone saying that something must be done about firearms in our sociaty are taking a "do something, anything" stance. That is pretty damn silly.

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