Our View: Talk turns to gun control

Dec. 19, 2012 @ 01:01 AM

Predictably, the calls for more firearms regulations in light the Newtown, Conn., tragedy have begun coming en masse.
Before the nation’s horror and shock have begun to subside, even before we know the facts behind what happened and why, the discourse in many corners has turned to banning some firearms and placing more limits on possession. One editorial cartoon, printed on the Commentary page opposite this, even raises the question of repeal of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday used the backdrop of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings to renew his longtime public and private push for tighter firearms regulations.
“If this doesn’t do it, what is going to,” Bloomberg said during a news conference in which he called on President Obama and Congress to act. Bloomberg and the group he heads, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, have called for reinstatement of the federal ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004, requiring all firearms sellers at gun shows to conduct background checks of potential buyers, tougher federal penalties for violations of firearms laws and other proposals.
President Obama, speaking Sunday night at a memorial service in Newtown, called for measures “aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.” The president said he intends to “engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators.” He didn’t specifically mention gun control, but he did ask rhetorically, “Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”
Neither of them said we don’t need knee-jerk reactions to this terrible incident, so we will, especially in light of the fact that it’s still unknown fully what happened and why.
We also note we agree with U.S. Sens. Kay Hagan and Richard Burr when they, in speaking with the Enterprise, say a common sense debate and a comprehensive approach – including examination of related mental health issues – are needed to help protect our communities while at the same time protecting our Second Amendment rights.
Terrible tragedies such as the shootings in Newtown appropriately cause us to review the status of firearms regulations, but they also should cause us to examine a wide range of societal and cultural issues, as Burr said, “to prevent events like this from happening and keep our children safe.”