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Common Dreams

What? Discuss Gun Laws?

Robert Walker

In less time than it takes to fire off two 9 millimeter handguns and kill dozens of people, the politicians, from the White House on down, will be putting out public statements deploring the school shooting in Connecticut, calling it tragic, and immediately adding that "now is not the time" to discuss new gun laws. When it comes to the deplorable state of America's gun laws, it's always "mañana."

It's always tomorrow, never today, because the gun lobby would not have it any other way. It doesn't matter how many people are killed or how innocent the victims, now is not the time to talk about sensible gun laws. It does not matter what the motive of the shooter is, or the age of the victims; it's never time to address the never ending carnage of guns in America. Nor does it matter how the shooter acquired his gun or how many rounds of ammunition were in the magazine; now is not the time to do anything. There will be plenty of time to do something after countless more tragedies like this one take place.

Yes, Americans must grieve for the victims and their families. Having counseled dozens of grief-stricken victims and their families during the seven years that I worked on this issue, I know all too well the enormous anguish that they are going through, and I cannot begin to conceive the terrible sense of loss that they must feel. But observing a never-ending political silence about new gun laws will do nothing to diminish their sorrow; it will only ensure that others will suffer a similar fate.

Yes, I fault our political leaders for their lack of courage on this issue, but politicians will not do or say anything about the weakness of America's gun laws until the American people demand it. If your heart go out to the victims of this shooting, it's also time to raise your voice.

Robert Walker is the President of the Population Institute, which works to promote voluntary family planning and reproductive health services, and to increase awareness of the social, economic, and environmental consequences of rapid population growth. Previously, Walker was Legislative Director at Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI) in 1994 when Congress approved a 10-year ban on assault weapons, and in 1993 when Congress passed the Brady Law, which requires that gun buyers pass a background check before purchasing a gun from a gun store. He was President of HCI from 1997-2000. HCI is known today as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. His views on this issue are entirely his own.

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