Horrific impetus

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By Optic Editorial Board

In the wake of the terrifying massacre in Newtown, Conn., where 20 little children and six educators were killed by a lone gunman, the nation has started up yet another debate over guns. Only this time, President Obama is weighing in.

How can this nation not consider some reasonable gun control measures after this latest school shooting? According to The Associated Press, the main weapon used in Friday’s massacre was a Bushmaster .223-caliber assault rifle, a civilian version of the military’s M-16. It holds 30 bullets in a single clip — and authorities say the gunman had hundreds of rounds, enough to kill just about every student at Sandy Hook Elementary School if he had been allowed enough time. Moreover, the AP reported that the chief medical examiner said the ammunition used is designed to maximize the amount of damage to the body, and that many of the children were shot multiple times.

On the day of the school shooting, the President brushed away tears when he first spoke of the tragedy. But by Sunday night, at an interfaith memorial service in Newtown, his resolve to take action was apparent. He told mourners — and the nation — that the U.S. is failing to keep its children safe, and he pledged to do something about it.

“What choice do we have?” Obama asked. “Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard?”

He also said he would use “whatever power this office holds” to engage with law enforcement, mental health professionals, parents and educators in an effort to prevent more tragedies like Newtown. However, he left open what he would do specifically — and how much it would relate to the issue of gun control.

Sadly, many proponents of gun control have given up the fight in recent years. The National Rifle Association, a powerful lobby that’s unbending in its defense of gun ownership rights, has been deemed by many politicians as just too formidable a foe.

After Newtown, however, that could change. Perhaps now parents will be the ones to step up and say enough is enough. Maybe the nation’s top parent, President Obama, will find the support he needs.

Reasonable limitations are placed on the First Amendment, so why not the Second Amendment? A good place to start is a ban on public access to assault weapons.