The president’s undisguised grief expressed that of the nation as we mourned the innocent lives lost in Newtown in yet another mass shooting. Maybe we aren’t so inured to gun violence after all, even though many of us no longer notice the news reports of children and others gunned down every day in our communities.
The task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden should study the impact of graphic violence in the media and inadequate mental health services. But the full power of the White House should also immediately get behind some common-sense gun legislation and policies.
It should support immediate passage of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proposed assault weapons ban, which would prohibit the manufacture, importation, possession, purchase and transfer of these deadly weapons. It should also support Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s bill, which would do the same for large capacity ammunition magazines. Sen. Charles Schumer will reintroduce a bill to fix gun checks, requiring all gun sellers to conduct checks on prospective buyers and pushing states to beef up their reporting to the National Instant Criminal Check System.
Read the Forward’s package, Dear Mr. President, policy Prescriptions for the Second Term.
We still haven’t closed the huge “gun show loophole” that allows individuals who aren’t in the business of selling firearms to sell without a license and without doing background checks. This accounts for two of every five guns sold in the United States. These bills should be quickly passed.
We need to make gun trafficking a federal crime and repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which makes it harder for law enforcement officers to aggressively pursue criminals who buy and sell illegal guns. Women who have obtained protective orders continue to report that law enforcement officers often don’t remove guns from their abusive partners – let’s push to change that.
These are common-sense gun regulations supported by many gun owners and others. Together they comprise an excellent way to begin to target — if you will — the scourge of illegal guns. They would go a long way to reducing the toll of gun violence in this country. It’s time to say “enough” and back that proclamation up with strong and decisive action.
Sammie Moshenberg is the director of Washington operations for the National Council of Jewish Women.