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It’s time to confront a gun lobby that’s out of control | Editorial
Five months ago, an editorial about the mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., appeared on these pages. We noted the madness of a legal system that allowed a young man to purchase 6,000 rounds of ammunition by mail order, that the United States is first in the world, followed by Yemen, in our per capita ownership of guns and, most noteworthy, the seeming lack of a collective sense of outrage over this sorry state of affairs.
We’ve now had another mass shooting, a repeat — though far more tragic — of the rampage in Colorado. This time, however, one thing feels different. This time, there is a nationwide sense of outrage.
During an interfaith gathering in Newtown, Conn., Pres. Obama all but uttered the words “gun control,” saying instead that it’s time for meaningful action. The National Rifle Association has been shamed, at least temporarily, into silence. A handful of pro-gun lawmakers are changing their tune. And protesters are taking to the street, laying blame where it belongs, with an NRA-backed gun lobby that has a $300 million war chest and, as the New York Times wrote Monday, a “virtually unmatched ferocity in advancing its political and legislative interests.”
As Slate’s David Weigel reports, the NRA trots out nearly the same line after each and every tragedy: Now’s not the time to broach policy; now is the time to let families and communities grieve.
The NRA is wrong. Now is the time to talk policy. Now is the time for action.
In the last few days, some of us at The Beachcomber have been struck by the similarities between Newtown and our own community. Theirs, like ours, is a tight-knit place. Many of the people who live in Newtown consciously chose it as their home, drawn to the small town because of its schools, its sense of community, its more relaxed pace. Like us, they hold community celebrations marking Halloween, Christmas and Easter. Everyone seems to know each other.
The chances are slim. But let’s not forget for one second that Newtown could have been Vashon. Here, too, there’s a culture of gun-ownership. Here, too, there’s little support and few services for the mentally ill, for those who are living on the edge. Here, too, this is a debate that matters.
What can we do? Write our lawmakers. Stand up to the NRA. Support those organizations fighting for gun control. Confront gun ownership in our own backyard.
If we care about our children, we’ll do all that we can to stop this madness. The time to act is now. The time for excuses is over.