Gun action, if any, needs to come down in the middle

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Don't just do something, sit there.

That's the best advice when it comes to some situations, but one Washington is unlikely to take regarding the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and elsewhere, and the resulting call for action.

Unfortunately, any action President Obama and Congress is likely to take can only impose tighter restrictions on sane, responsible gun owners and create more lucrative markets for dealers in illegal guns and ammunition.

The issue is making itself felt in Nebraska, where one deranged youth killed nine people including himself at an Omaha department store in 2007, and another killed an assistant principal and wounded the principal in Millard in 2011 before killing himself.

One new bill would tighten restrictions on minors purchasing ammunition, and another would make adults liable for leaving unsecured firearms in locations accessible to a minor or mentally incompetent person who cannot legally possess a gun.

The representative for our area, Sen. Mark Christensen, opposes the legislation, and said he might reintroduce a 2011 bill that would allow teachers and administrators to keep guns secured in their vehicles on school property.

"If you could prove to me that gun restrictions take guns away from criminals, then I could support it," he said. "But criminals are still going to have them no matter what you regulate."

Attorney General Jon Bruning echoed another sentiment, that the "problem is the mentally ill individual that wields the gun. We're not going to stop mentally ill people from doing crazy things by building more walls."

Of course, the Founding Fathers knew nothing about the efficient killing machines that are modern assault rifles with large-capacity magazines, when they drew up the Second Amendment.

On the other side, gun-control advocates are seeing their efforts backfire as gun and ammunition sales skyrocket, state legislatures enact pro-gun laws and some local law enforcement agencies go on the record as saying they will not enforce any federal laws requiring the confiscation of weapons.

Let's hope cooler heads prevail, with new laws, if any, coming down in the sane middle -- which is unlikely to satisfy those at either end of the debate.

On the other hand, perhaps the gun control battle can accomplish some real good if it pulls enough attention away from the real, tough decisions that will need to be made to avoid a government shutdown in a battle over raising the debt ceiling.

As for the the nation's deficit, the time is long past for those in Washington to not just sit there, do something.

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