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Eight slain in Atlanta, now 10 in Boulder. Your town could be next. Can the nation finally do something about weapons of war on our streets?
President Joe Biden called Tuesday for Congress to move immediately to “ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.” It’s a start, though he’ll have to reach across party lines for real this time, since some Democrats are as anti-gun-control as the bulk of today’s GOP.
The New York Post does not see this as a conservative or liberal issue — it’s an issue of life and death. Curbing guns is what led to New York City’s three-decade reduction in murders. And, sadly, it’s the dismissal of that progress that has led to a rise in shootings here. Outside the city, the toll of semi-automatic weapons is a sad litany of cities and schools: Newtown, Parkland, Aurora, Las Vegas. It’s a national shame.
We called on President Donald Trump to act, and we’ll happily support Biden in a fight for the needed changes. Polls show most Americans want this. It’s the political establishment that is frozen.
Wait! shouts the “do nothing” crowd: The Atlanta and Boulder killers used handguns, and both seem to have major mental-illness issues. How does this justify drastic action?
In fact, the Boulder gun was an AR-15-style weapon with a pistol stock and a shorter barrel — less accurate, but easier to conceal — and nothing that any civilian needs to own.
And, sure, the nation also needs to do better on mental health. But beefed-up background checks would help keep firearms of all kinds out of hands attached to unsound minds. Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa bought his Ruger AR-556 just six days before the Boulder slaughter; Robert Aaron Long bought his pistol just minutes before the Atlanta spree. Even a waiting period might have made a difference.
And while not all mass shooters use long guns, let alone semi-automatic ones, that’s been the favorite weapon of these killers for years now.
Details vary in the slaughters at Santa Fe HS, Tree of Life synagogue, the Garlic Festival, the Pulse nightclub and El Paso and Dayton and Virginia Beach and Thousand Oaks. But the bodies keep piling up — and all the hate-crime laws in the world won’t do a thing to stop them.
When they enshrined the Second Amendment, the Founding Fathers could not have conceived of high-capacity magazines. Hunting and home protection are one thing — but what civilian needs an AR-15?
The Supreme Court has ruled the Constitution protects guns “in common use,” not weapons of war. Our forefathers did not want every American to be capable of mass slaughter.
As we’ve said before, getting it done will require centrists to stand up in both parties to stare down their “ban everything” and “ban nothing” extremes. Start by writing an assault-weapon ban that focuses on firepower — rate of fire, muzzle velocity, and so on. Then move on to tighter, universal background checks, etc., reasonable waiting periods and all the rest.
And, yes oh yes, make it easier for families to get help for their troubled loved ones, first by taking away their guns, then by getting them the mental-health services they need.
Get started today, before the next horror hits.