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anyplainjoe
05-07-2008, 12:51
http://www.daytondailynews.com/o/content/oh/story/opinions/editorial/2008/01/11/ddn011208gunsxxer.html?cxtype=rss&cxsvc=7&cxcat=22

EDITORIAL

Our view: Gun control must be packaged well
By Dayton Daily News

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Public-safety-minded citizens who see reasonable restrictions on gun sales as an impossible dream should take heart and careful notes.

In December, Congress passed, and President George W. Bush signed, a bill that helps ensure guns aren't sold to people with potentially dangerous mental problems.

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The legislation was introduced after the Virginia Tech massacre, when Seung-Hui Cho, a mentally disturbed student who had been declared by a Virginia court to be a danger to himself, was able to purchase two semiautomatic handguns. The court records hadn't found their way to the computer database used for background checks. The weapons then were used in the campus shooting spree that left 32 people dead, and many more wounded, before the student committed suicide.

The new law strengthens the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a federal protection in place since 1998 under the Brady Bill. It is designed to make background checks more effective by requiring more regular and accurate updates to criminal and mental health databases.

Even such a simple, common-sense improvement is politically impossible under ordinary circumstances. The National Rifle Association is too powerful and unreasonable. Politicians from both parties are too cowardly.

But after Virginia Tech, almost everyone was holding hands. The vote was unanimous in both the House and Senate. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the NRA both supported the bill.

This remarkable consensus deserves close examination. It needs to be deconstructed so it might be replicated.

At a minimum, it seems these conditions must be in place:

Pitiful as it is to say, horrifically violent events that can be directly attributed to lax gun laws can force change. Those opportunities have to be used to protect other innocent people.

Proposed reforms can't be called "gun control" even though that plainly is what they are. Better to spin them as "law enforcement."

It helps when pro-gun advocates say dumb things that make even the moderates roll their eyes, such as when geriatric rocker Ted Nugent told CNN: "Spineless gun control advocates are squawking like chickens with their tiny-brained heads chopped off, making political hay over this most recent, devastating Virginia Tech massacre, when, in fact, it is their own forced gun-free zone policy that enabled the unchallenged methodical murder of 32 people."

Some gun-safety advocates need to oppose the proposed reforms, such as in this case when a few groups said the legislation had been "hijacked" by the gun lobby. In fact, the bill does throw some crumbs to the NRA such as requiring a process be established that allows convicts and mentally disabled people to at least argue that they should have their gun rights restored.

A member of Buckeye Firearms Association, an Ohio-based gun rights group, has caught on to this strategy. He recently posted on the group's Web site:

What "anti-gun groups, legislators and prosecutors can't accomplish by passing more anti-gun laws (realizing it's virtual political suicide), they are quietly pursuing ... through the back door by increasing the pool of prohibited persons. After all, who could be against keeping guns away from criminals?"

Exactly.