Connecticut tragedy reignites gun control debate

Monday, December 17, 2012

The unspeakable tragedy of another mass shooting, this one even more tragic because of the killing of 20 small children and the six adults trying to protect them, gripped our attention over the weekend and immediately touched off a predictable debate over gun control.

Now that the election is over -- and President Obama no longer has to face re-election -- he and other leaders are no longer afraid to touch the new "third rail" of politics, gun control.

Among them is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he of the trans-fat and Big Gulp sodas bans, who said gun control should be Obama's top priority for his second term.

Anyone else see the irony in his statement? "He's president of the United States. And if he does nothing during his second term, something like 48,000 Americans will be killed with illegal guns."

Note he said "illegal" guns -- it's already illegal to take a gun anywhere near a school -- and how do you outlaw an illegal gun?

On the same day the children were killed in Connecticut, 23 children were attacked in China by a man wielding a kitchen knife. While none of them were killed, two are in intensive care and other injuries included severed ears and fingers.

The suspect had reportedly attacked an old woman in his village with the same knife, and police were investigating a possible connection to his epilepsy and belief in the current doomsday rumors.

Elsewhere, an independent study estimates 176 children were among hundreds of civilians who have been killed in U.S. drone attacks along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan over the past eight years.

Guns can provide a false sense of security for their owners, and are dangerous to own -- there were 592 firearm accidents in 2008, the latest year for which statistics are available, and the most common cause of American gun fatalities is suicide.

With 88 people killed in mass shootings this year, and 10,000 murdered with guns each year, no one can question efforts to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and mentally ill individuals. It's also hard to justify high-capacity magazines for high-powered rifles, given the potential for mass carnage.

But new gun control laws likely will be effective only in keeping guns out of the hands of those predisposed to following laws.

Do you favor stricter gun control?
 Yes on all weapons.
 Yes, but only on assault weapons.
 No on any type of firearm.

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