This may be the moment that the nation finally begins to have a serious dialogue about gun control.
The murders in Newtown, Connecticut, seem to be unleashing something profound in the American spirit where elected officials, advocates and citizens are concluding that enough is, at long last, enough.
The unspeakable horror of a deranged assailant gunning down children, school teachers and administrators has produced shockwaves across America, making the topic of gun control unavoidable in the national discussion. This is the moment that calls for the president, Congress and others to take bold steps to affect some kind of limitation on the access to guns.
If nothing else, this latest in a series of horrific mass killings has highlighted some realities that are difficult to argue with. For one thing, some level of gun control is necessary in the United States, if for no other reason that it would likely prevent another senseless killing somewhere else.
There is no reason for citizens to own semiautomatic weapons, machines whose only purpose is to fire a barrage of bullets quickly for the purpose of killing.
The National Rifle Association is not nearly the force to be feared that proponents of gun control measures might have thought. Indeed, the organization unleashed all of its financial and persuasive muscle in this year’s presidential campaign to defeat the president. That didn’t turn out so well for them.
Speaking of the NRA, the organization has not uttered a peep following the events in Connecticut, after the very public and outspoken role it played during the presidential campaign. In fact, the staunchest proponents of gun rights in Congress have been uncharacteristically silent in the days after the deaths at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. That would indicate that the NRA and its champions realize that any statements they make are not likely to win converts to their side.
Meanwhile, there has been an undercurrent – particularly among some in the African-American community – lamenting the fact that the deaths in Connecticut are the focus of national attention while killings of inner-city youth have received hardly a shred of media attention.
That is a symptom of the nation’s problem regarding violence. America has become so desensitized to killings of most any sort that its attention is arrested only when something occurs that is so monstrous, so appalling that it shocks the nation into taking notice.
More than any other time, this is the time for action and reasonable action on gun control – such as the measures outlined by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg – would help lower murder rates across the country by requiring more stringent background checks and setting restrictions on gun access.
President Obama said it best in his remarks to people in Newtown – and the nation – last Sunday.
“These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change,” Obama said. “We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.”
Indeed, we must.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)