10/6/2017 4:53:00 PM EDITORIAL: Common sense needed in gun debate; sensible regulations could lessen carnage
Let’s make something clear right off the top. You don’t have to be anti-Second Amendment or anti-firearms to make a reasonable case that America’s permissive gun culture needs to be addressed.
The gravity of America’s gun problem became apparent once again Sunday night in Las Vegas when a lone gunman on the 32nd flood of the Mandalay Bay Resort unleashed a barrage of bullets from a stash of weapons into a crowd of concertgoers below. By the time his assault ended, at least 58 people were dead and more than 500 injured. This massacre now ranks as the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
The carnage would be unbelievable, except that we’ve seen it too many times before. In a nightclub. A church. A movie theater. Outside a shopping mall. In an elementary school. Mass shootings just keep happening in a society where guns are considered off-limits for sensible regulation by most legislative leaders.
The reluctance to consider common- sense gun regulations is particularly troubling given polls showing that a vast majority of Americans favor some sort of action on the part of their political leaders. It was shocking in the wake of the mass killings of first-graders and their teachers at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that Congress could not even pass a modest proposal to expand background checks to include private party firearms sales. The bill failed in the Senate, despite having 54 votes, because of Senate rules requiring 60 votes for passage. A proposed assault weapons ban similar to the one that existed as law for 10 years beginning in 1994 failed by a much wider margin, 40-60.
The national debate over guns is a painful exercise, leaving many to tune it out and give up in disgust, no matter what side they’re on.
If responsible action that would not have infringed in any realistic way on law-abiding gun owners could not pass after the Newtown massacre, it’s unlikely we’ll see it happen now. But we urge Americans not to give up. We don’t have to accept the resignation of some that mass killings such as those in Las Vegas are just the price of liberty.
Stricter background checks and tighter regulation of various murder machines such as the rifles owned and wielded in bulk by the Vegas gunman will face malicious opposition from the gun lobby, primarily the NRA. But some common-sense proposals are already surfacing. One is the ban of so-called “bump stocks,” which reportedly allow semiautomatic rifles to shoot faster rounds. Such devices were said to be attached to several weapons in the Vegas shooters’ stash of firepower.
A bill banning the sale of such devices is being introduced in Congress. It deserves consideration.
Would such a measure prevent future massacres? Maybe. Maybe not. We strongly suspect the hundreds of dead and wounded in Las Vegas would dearly love to have had such a provision in place before the shots began raining down Sunday night.