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Ban Assault Weapons Now

Editorial: Ban assault weapons. How many Orlandos and Newtowns must the U.S. suffer?

Our hearts are broken, again.

And again, and again.

How many more lost lives? How many more ruined families? How many more dark ditches must we dig in our American soul before we say "enough"?

Fifty people murdered, 53 others wounded, because a man with hatred in his heart had a way to overreact: with an assault rifle.

We in Connecticut know all too well the agony these families in Orlando, Fla., will experience, as they hold each other tight, as they desperately seek a semblance of sanity in the midst of madness, as they mourn their dead and consider what life will be like without them. It was just a few years ago that we did the same.

But we must set aside, for this moment, the temptation to focus on the abhorrent zeal that apparently drove Omar Mateen to murder on Sunday. This conversation could just as easily be about the delusions of Adam Lanza, who killed 20 children and six women at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

Illness, prejudice and ignorance will always be with us. But the guns don't have to be.

There is no excuse for allowing madmen access to assault weapons. Military-spec weapons have no business being in the hands of anybody other than the military. The Second Amendment doesn't guarantee the right to the technology of mass murder.

Congress should follow Connecticut's lead and adopt the assault weapons ban that the General Assembly passed after the Newtown school massacre. The ban has been upheld in federal court.

Those weapons should have been banned nationwide in 2013, but a majority of the U.S. Senate voted against smart legislation, and they share in the responsibility for this and every mass shooting that has happened since then.

Those who would oppose such legislation should acknowledge that they are willing to accept another Columbine, another San Bernardino, another Denver, another Sandy Hook.

Every once in a while we hear a story of someone — the "good guy with a gun," in the logic of the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre — who successfully fends off an intruder. But how many of those instances involve an assault weapon? The clear truth is that assault rifles do far more harm than good.

There are more than 1.2 million legally registered guns in Connecticut, according to the state Department of Public Safety. Of them, more than 58,000 are classified as "assault." Until they are removed from society, we risk too much. Assault weapons are not protecting anybody. They are enabling murders by the score.

The responsibility now falls to our congressmen — Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Reps. John Larson, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes and Elizabeth Esty — to muster the political and moral will among their colleagues to get the votes necessary to enact firm legislation that will put an end to the mass killings of innocents by getting these types of weapons out of people's hands.

How horrible that it's come to this.

Copyright © 2017, CT Now
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