Tuesday July 24, 2012

Now that Sunday's high-profile memorial service has been concluded with its heartfelt sympathies for the victims of the Colorado Massacre and their families, it will be back to business as usual as the national obsession with guns and ammo continues unabated.

Or will it?

A few courageous voices have dared to speak up, risking the condemnation of the National Rifle Association, widely described as the most powerful lobby in Washington.

Among the most eloquent was Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City. In a national TV interview this past weekend, Bloomberg made a strong, eloquent case for reopening a national debate on gun control, calling on President Obama and Republican hopeful Mitt Romney to discuss the issue.

"Somebody's got to do something about this, and it requires, particularly in a presidential year, the candidates for president of the United States to stand up once and for all say, ‘Yes they felt terrible, yes it's a tragedy, yes we have great sympathies for the families, but it's time for this country to do something,' " Bloomberg said. "It's time for both of them to be called, held accountable."

Perhaps the best way to start is to question unlimited purdhases of ammunition. As it is now, anyone can assemble his own personal arsenal -- in the case of the Colorado shooter, it was enough to equip a small army. Very few states and cities require gun dealers to keep track of ammunition sales.

As one Colorado gun-control advocate put it: "It's a wide-open marketplace. The Internet has really changed things. You don't have to show your face. Anything goes." So said Tom Mauser, whose son died in the 1999 Columbine massacre.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey spoke out on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday: "I don't know why people need to have assault weapons. There needs to be reasonable gun control put in place. And we talk about this constantly, and absolutely nothing happens, because many of our legislators, unfortunately, at the federal level, lack the courage to do anything."

U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., described the 100-round ammo drum police say suspect James Holmes purchased online as a "war tool. They're meant to kill as many people as possible in as short a period of time."

To no one's surprise, gun-owner groups and their political supporters are crying foul, seeing a threat to their Second Amendment rights.

Dudley Brown, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, let us know that law-abiding sportsmen and target shooters often buy in bulk to save money and can easily blow through 400 or 500 rounds in a day at a shooting range.

"I call 6,000 rounds of ammunition running low," he said, referring to Holmes' stash.

Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican, declared that "to think that somehow increased gun control is the answer, that would have to be proved."

A look at the statistics in other advanced nations that have strict limits in place -- such as Canada and the United Kingdom -- shows that outbreaks of gun violence on a mass scale in those countries are rare. That should be all the proof McCain or any other skeptics should require.