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December 13, 2013
Editorial: A year and 10,000 gun-related deaths later, Congress fails to act

Newtown.jpg(Dec. 13 - By the Editorial Board)

As if the nation needed another reminder of what happened 365 days ago today, a student opened fire at a Colorado high school on Friday, shooting three people before turning the gun on himself.

Many statistics are well-documented: In the year since Adam Lanza slaughtered 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there have been more than 10,000 gun-related deaths.

And since the Newtown massacre, Congress has approved zero measures to curb gun violence.

One potential glimmer of home came earlier this week when Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Penn., a psychologist, announced legislation that seeks to restructure federal mental health funding to focus more heavily on serious mental illness. Democrats ought to join his effort.

The most basic gun control measure--requiring background checks for all gun purchasers, including people with histories of mental illness--stalled in Congress, despite having significant support among voters.

Bending to pro-gun lobbyist and Second Amendment absolutists in his caucus, House Speaker John Boehner has refused to put the background check measure up for a vote.
Unable to elicit support from all Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid failed to win passage of background check legislation in the upper house.

Beyond the Beltway, the situation isn't much better.

PBS' Frontline came up with several statistics worth considering: 27 states approved 93 pro-gun measures, more than twice the number of measures approved in other states to would further restrict guns.

Frontline's review shows that state legislatures have approved bills "allowing people to carry concealed weapons in churches, public parks and schools, and to accept gun permits from neighboring states."

California is, once again, the great exception. It accounted for a fourth of the 43 gun control measures approved by various states.

In most of California, politicians risk defeat at the polls if they fail to support gun control. It's not that way elsewhere. In Colorado, voters recalled two state senators who voted for background checks and to ban magazines holding more than 15 rounds.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire and a gun control advocate, has time on his hands and has shown an ability to use his wealth to defeat opponents of sensible gun control.

The 2014 election will soon be upon us. As the cliché goes, elections have consequences. Gun control advocates and voters should show that blindly supporting the pro-gun lobby has consequences.

Gun restrictions might not have stopped the Newtown massacre, or the shooting in Colorado on Friday. But the nation must find ways to keep guns out of the hands of people with severe mental illness, and limit the firepower of weapons that have no legitimate use other than to kill other people.