7:55 PM EST, December 17, 2012
Let's not squander the opportunity to make the country safer. We don't need another study. We need to pass some common-sense laws, starting with a ban on military-style assault weapons.
After the horrid murder of 27 children and adults in Newtown on Friday, Democratic lawmakers and independent Sen. Joe Lieberman called Sunday for the assault weapons ban and a national commission to study mass shootings. The danger of creating such a commission is that some lawmakers likely will use it to delay legislative action, saying the country must wait for its findings.
By that point, history suggests, the iron will be cold, the moment will have passed. So let's hold off on the commission and work on sensible state and federal legislation first.
Our only complaint with the assault weapons ban proposal is that it doesn't go far enough. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., proposes to ban assault weapons and high-capacity clips and drums. So far, so good. There is no civilian application for any of this deadly hardware. But why not take it a step further and require background checks for every gun sale and a limit on bulk sales?
If and when a commission is created, it could, among other things, review the delivery of mental health services. In Connecticut, officials closed two state mental hospitals decades ago and transferred services to community settings. Are those services adequate and accessible? Many experts answer with an emphatic "no."
It shouldn't take a shooting tragedy to spur sensible action, but, sadly, it does. "We must change," President Obama said Sunday in Newtown. Let's not talk it to death.
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