Ban not the an­swer

The Globe - - OPINION -

With the slaugh­ter of 20 school chil­dren and seven adults by D GHUDnJHG 20-yHDU-ROG uVLnJ D KLJK-SRwHUHG DVVDuOW ULflH WKLV PRnWK, FDOOV IRU VRPH WySH RI Jun FRnWURO DUH fiOOLnJ WKH DLUwDYHV and the pres­i­dent has in­di­cated that he’s lis­ten­ing.

There are calls for new fed­eral leg­is­la­tion to out­law weapons like the one used at the Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary to kill those in­no­cent kids and adults, and a pe­ti­tion on the White House web­site call­ing for stricter gun con­trol mea­sures had gar­nered 200,000 sig­na­tures in a week’s time.

It seems to us that you don’t have to be a gun-hat­ing, anti-Sec­ond Amend­ment pro­po­nent to won­der why such de­struc­tive and pow­er­ful weapons are still read­ily avail­able to the gen­eral pub­lic. Just be­cause some peo­ple en­joy the thrill of hav­ing and own­ing VuFK fiUHDUPV GRHVn’W PHDn WKHy KDYH WKH DEVROuWH ULJKW WR GR VR.

To the ex­tent that it can be shown such weapons are a clear and present dan­ger to the health and safety of any com­mu­nity, ban­ning them should be con­sid­ered. But the fact so few mur­ders ac­tu­ally have been com­mit­ted with such weapons in this coun­try should, at least, give us pause.

With so many other guns read­ily avail­able for sale to pri­vate cit­izHnV, wRuOG RuWODwLnJ “DVVDuOW ULflHV” UHDOOy KHOS FuW GRwn Rn WKH num­ber of mur­der vic­tims we see year af­ter year? Or would it just be an­other feck­less feel-good mea­sure in the af­ter­math of such a hor­ri­ble tragedy?

Ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent FBI statis­tics (2009F there were 13,636 mur­ders com­mit­ted that year. Guns were used to kill 9,146, wKLOH ULflHV wHUH uVHG WR PuUGHU 348. 2I WKRVH ULflH NLOOLnJV RnOy D WLny SRUWLRn wHUH GRnH wLWK “DVVDuOW ULflHV.”

TKHUH DUH Dn HVWLPDWHG 5 PLOOLRn WR 10 PLOOLRn AR-15 WySH ULflHV in cir­cu­la­tion to­day. Are they as dan­ger­ous as we are be­ing told to­day? vou bet. But only in the wrong hands.

So what should we do? We ap­plaud the pres­i­dent’s ap­point­ment of Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den to lead an in­ter-agency task force to re­view cur­rent fed­eral gun laws and how they can be im­proved with an eye on keep­ing guns out of the hands of crim­i­nals and those with se­ri­ous men­tal health is­sues.

So far, it doesn’t ap­pear there were any rea­son­able steps that might have been taken by ad­min­is­tra­tors at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary that would have pre­vented Adam Lanza from car­ry­ing out his deadly mis­sion. The NRA is­sued a state­ment last Fri­day call­ing for an armed guard in ev­ery school build­ing as the an­swer, but even hav­ing an armed guard at the door at the time of this at­tack is far from any guar­an­tee that any lives would have been saved.

The de­ci­sion of any pri­vate cit­i­zen to own and keep guns ob­viRuVOy FDUULHV ULVNV. TKRVH ULVNV FDn EH PDJnL­fiHG wKHn D FKLOG RU fam­ily mem­ber also liv­ing in the home has se­ri­ous men­tal health is­sues. For what­ever rea­son, Adam Lanza’s mother, Nancy, didn’t see the threat un­til it was too late.

If there are new laws that can ef­fec­tively re­duce the chances of such a hor­ri­ble thing from ever hap­pen­ing again we’ll be happy to sup­port them. We can­not sup­port hav­ing a gun-tot­ing guard to greet chil­dren ev­ery school day as the an­swer.

If own­er­ship of a Bush­mas­ter .223 were out­lawed to­mor­row, we’d lose no sleep over our neigh­bor’s lost right to own one. But nei­ther will we kid our­selves that do­ing that will likely stop the next de­ter­mined killer-in-wait­ing. It would only be the be­gin­ning; we must do more.

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