Our Opinion: Demand action on guns
National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre doesn't have to deal with the effects of gun violence in America and neither do the U.S. congressmen currently on recess and hoping the whole post-Newtown gun reform issue will blow away. The nation's mayors do have to deal with gun mayhem. So do their employees, the police officers and first responders who often find themselves in the line of fire when they go to a mall or elementary school where people are in the process of being mowed down by a madman with an assault weapon. The mayors should be listened to as they speak out for gun sanity.
The organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns is sponsoring more than 100 events around the country to keep the focus on the need for gun reform. More than 900 mayors, including Pittsfield's Daniel Bianchi, are members of the group, membership in which has expanded dramatically since the Newtown massacre last December. As part of today's National Day to Demand Action, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who co-chairs the bipartisan mayors group, is running advertisements and setting up phone banks so "we can make our voices heard" on a gun sickness unique to America.
Mr. LaPierre hasn't made an argument yet about the uselessness of gun laws that cannot be easily refuted by the success of those gun laws in other countries. The Second Amendment does not prohibit gun regulations any more than the First Amendment prohibits laws against libel and slander. With as many as 90 percent of Americans according to polls supporting tougher federal background checks on gun purchases, Mr. LaPierre's opposition reveals who he truly represents: the minority of gun fanatics who will tolerate no rules on guns, and gun manufacturers.
Gun legislation calling for expanded federal background checks and stiffer sentences for gun trafficking will be debated in the U.S. Senate in April. Incredibly, even this benign legislation will be opposed by congressmen, most of them Republicans, who would rather allow criminals and lunatics to continue killing innocents than offend the NRA. A ban on assault weapons was dropped from the U.S. Senate bill, although President Obama continues to demand a vote on such a ban. Americans should insist upon passage of anti-gun violence legislation as well as a vote on an assault weapons ban. Let the representatives and senators so unmoved by the slaughter of 20 children and six adults in Newtown know that they will not ban the weapon that killed them go on the record with their opposition.
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