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Aspen, CO Colorado

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January 18, 2013
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Hey, righty: Give limits on guns a chance

For examples of the ludicrous nature of the arguments against greater limitations on the sale of guns and ammunition, just scroll the Facebook postings of your most conservative friends.

Check out these gems:

• "If you don't have to give up your car because people drive drunk with theirs, why do you have to give up your gun because others commit crimes with theirs?"

• "How is it that you need a background check to own a gun but not to run the country?"

• "Better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it."

• "The Second Amendment isn't just about firearms, it's about our freedom, and WE plan to keep both."

Of course, there also is this oft-repeated classic: "Guns don't kill people; people kill people."

Indeed, going up against the mentality of people who would post such nonsensical (not to mention stale) remarks, the Obama administration will have its hands full in trying to convince millions of recalcitrant Americans and a congressional majority that the time for sweeping reforms is now.

On Wednesday, the president unveiled a multifaceted plan aimed at limiting gun violence. It will be a tough sell in a country that already has an estimated 270 million guns among its populace - or 89 guns for every 100 citizens.

Legislative proposals backed by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden include, but are not limited to, requiring criminal background checks on all gun sales, including private transactions; banning "military style" assault weapons; limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds; and strengthening penalties for gun trafficking.

This strikes us as reasonable, especially in light of last year's tragedies in Aurora and Newtown, Conn., separate incidents in July and December in which well-armed gunmen collectively took the lives of 38 individuals and injured another 72. Actually, the proposals would make sense had those incidents not occurred - America's recent history is filled with acts of violence resulting from the use, or misuse if you will, of firearms.

"While there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there's even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try it," the president said.

Obama also has signed 23 executive actions intended to strengthen existing laws, augment mental-health measures and promote federal research on gun crime through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The actions also include stricter prosecution of would-be gun buyers who fail background checks as well as new requirements for federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations. That Congress cannot block these actions is a slight relief, but it's the legislative proposals that would do the most good in stemming the tide of violence that appears to pervade nearly every corner of the nation.

Americans need to feel safe again. We need to know that we can send our children to school safely without fearing random acts of violence that could bring about their death or injury. We should be able to attend a movie in a public theater complex without the risk that some disturbed individual is going to shoot up the place with no particular target in mind.

It's completely ridiculous for advocates of unrestricted gun sales to suggest that arming teachers and security guards, and posting law enforcement personnel in every public setting, is the answer. The fact is that it saddens us that such suggestions have gained traction among the gun lobby and its supporters.

After the Aurora shootings last summer, we opined that the time for a national debate on gun control was way past due. It's a shame that it took another senseless shooting event - 20 children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown - to get the ball rolling on a serious conversation.

Maybe, just maybe, some good will result from the discussion this time.


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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 18, 2013 05:41AM Published Jan 18, 2013 02:01AM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.