Our Opinion: Action on guns is needed, not empty rhetoric

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Wednesday's horrific mass shootings in San Bernadino, California had elements of workplace violence and terrorism, and the motivations of the apparent shooters, who were killed by police, will not be easily determined. But some things are clear.

Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were armed with two assault rifles and two semiautomatic pistols, and however they were acquired, there is no reason why anyone outside of the military needs such weaponry. They had 1,600 rounds of ammunition with them in their Ford Explorer and another 4,500 rounds in their home in Redlands. Whatever the motivating factors — a grudge against Mr. Farook's co-workers in the county health department, his radicalization in visits to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, or a combination — he and his wife could not have killed 14 people and injured 21 more if weapons were not so easy to acquire.

Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, told Congress Thursday that it must address the proliferation of military-style weapons and the ability of people on the no-fly list from purchasing weapons. Inexcusably, efforts to prevent people on the terrorism watch list from buying guns have been blocked by the National Rifle Association and Republican congressmen and more than 2,000 terrorism suspects have bought them over the past 10 years according to the Congressional Budget Office. Why do the NRA and Washington Republicans think potential terrorists should have ready access to weapons?

"Once you know something is happening and you can do something about it and you don't do something about it, you're liable," said Senator Boxer. "Maybe not in a legal sense. In the moral sense." This applies to the Republican congressmen and presidential candidates, Ted Cruz prominent among them, who block gun violence reform efforts and then offer their pro forma "thoughts and prayers" to the victims of the latest mass shooting and their families.

Americans want action, not empty platitudes. The First Amendment guarantees free speech, but those who abuse that right can be subjected to lawsuits — similarly, the Second Amendment does not preclude laws and regulations, as courts have ruled. The next gun massacre is coming. While action is late, it is never too late to act.


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