Violet: It’s time to revisit gun control

The massacre of 26 people including 20 children in Newtown, Conn. has reignited the debate over gun control.

Before the election there was such a discussion in the aftermath of the slayings in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. That gunman, like the deceased suspect here, obtained the weapons legally. The insipid response in July 2012, no doubt, was linked to fears about National Rifle Association (NRA) retaliation during the then-upcoming election. Even President Obama’s reaction was muted. Now with blood shed fresh on the floors of an elementary school classroom, Mr. Obama, who cannot run for reelection, has called for meaningful action to prevent such shootings in the future.

It’s about time.

So-called hunters really have no plausible excuse to prevent reasonable solutions. While they have to toe the mark of the NRA, most hunters I know are true sportsmen and don’t use semi-automatic weapons to hunt. In fact, the dozen or so that I know use bow and arrows. That’s sport. Surely, we also have to ask ourselves why the mother of the shooter in Connecticut had all these guns. I believe in self-protection, particularly for single women, but there’s no need for multiple weapons with high-capacity magazines.

Past legislation in Congress has floundered. One bill last summer set new requirements for selling ammunition. Dealers would have had to report the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammo to an unlicensed person within any five consecutive days. The sellers would also have to demand photo identification from the purchaser. Congress failed to bite the bullet, if you’ll pardon the pun.

In the prior year the so-called Gabby Giffords Bill, named after the shooting of the congresswoman from Arizona, also failed. The legislation would have banned high-capacity magazines.

While these modest bills have bit the dust, NRA-inspired legislation seems to fly through with the organization’s minions in Washington leading the charge. One piece would allow anyone who secures a concealed weapon permit from any state to cross state lines, even if they couldn’t meet the requirements for such a license in the destination state. Even a modest amendment that would prevent application of the law to a suspected terrorist, a person convicted of a sex offense against a minor, stalkers, or domestic abusers, failed to abridge the law.

Congress hasn’t even made a dent on figuring out a way to curb access to guns by people who are mentally Ill. In fact, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), a law designed to protect the privacy of patients, has practically inoculated mentally ill patients from background checks.

The Rhode Island congressional delegation, Messrs. Whitehouse, Reed, Cicilline and Langevin, all decry publicly the “senseless” killings when these tragedies arise. It’s time for them to act. Let’s see if they follow up with efforts to curb the purchase of 100-round drum magazines and other sensible legislation.

This is the season of “peace and good will to all men.” The punctuation of these killings not only upset the spirit of this holiday season but also the hypocrisy inherent in all the rhetoric. Politicians have to act and all of us have to speak up. True hunters have to express the heart and soul of their sport by also decrying the proliferation of high-powered assault weapons. Let’s hope that 2013 can usher in an era of reflection and the banning of high-capacity magazines.

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