News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 19, 2012

EDITORIAL: Renew the gun ban

Assault weapons have no place in our society

The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Curbing the type of hideous violence that claimed the lives of 26 innocent children and adults last week in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., is by all estimations a “complex” challenge.

The issues involved are many and varied. A violent culture. Treatment of mental illnesses and disabilities. Safety and security measures in schools and other public or private institutions. The proliferation and easy access to lethal weapons.

While we concede the difficulty of dealing effectively with these issues collectively, we won’t pretend there are not things that can and should be done that would help put America on a positive path.

In fact, there is at least one “simple” measure that could be taken immediately to lessen the potential of another massacre occurring anywhere in our country. Assault weapons — killing machines designed as tools of war — should once again be banned from the general public, along with high-capacity ammunition magazines.

This is not a new strategy. A ban on assault-style weapons — including the type of high-powered, semiautomatic rifle used by a determined killer to rapidly mow down 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School — existed in this country from 1994 through 2004, when it was allowed to expire.

Would such a ban eliminate the possibility of fatal shootings in schools or elsewhere? Of course not. But could the massive carnage inflicted at Sandy Hook have been minimized if not for the use of such a “killing machine”? Absolutely.

A person bent on perpetrating a mass killing can always find ways to accomplish such an evil goal. But denying a motivated mass murderer access to an assault weapon is certainly a logical way to make such a mission far more difficult. What’s more, banning assault weapons is a reasonable solution to addressing gun violence in one small way that does little to infringe on citizens’ Second Amendment right to own guns for hunting, self-defense or recreation.

The resistance to such logic will be fierce. But reasonable people must not cower in the face of zealotry. Renewing an assault weapons ban, this time with fewer loopholes, is right for America. Allowing it to expire was a mistake that should be corrected. Soon.