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Sheila Simmons

Sheila Simmons

America, are we ready yet?

Thus far, a crazed and desperate gunman armed with a military-style assault rifle has mowed down innocent civilians in a movie theater, a college campus, an elementary school and now a nightclub. Strapped like they’re going to an overseas war, these men have taken aim at people merely going about their lives, people nowhere nearly equipped to defend themselves against a shower of bullets.

Time and time again, we mourn the victims. We pray for their families and hold candlelight vigils and moments of silence. Then, over time the tragedy becomes a past memory but the carnage continues.

We, as a nation, may not be able to always delve into the scary inner-thinkings of the mentally disturbed, or take guns from every suspected evil-doer in the country. But we can, at the very least, halt the public sells of these military-style assault weapons, a proven favorite for mass killers.

Following last Sunday’s shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., a CBS News poll found that a majority of Americans determine that they now support a ban on such weapons. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents said as much. That’s up from 44 percent in December. Thirty-eight percent said they opposed a ban, compared with 50 percent in December.

With views divided heavily along political party lines, about 78 percent of Democrats backed such legislation, with 18 percent opposing it. About 50 percent of Republican respondents opposed it, with about 45 percent expressing support for it. Independents remained relatively evenly divided on the issue.

President Barack Obama this week called on Congress to reinstate a ban against assault weapons that expired in 2004 and to pass other “common-sense” gun control legislation he said would not violate citizens’ Second Amendment. Pointing to “no fly, no buy” legislation currently pending in Congress, he argued, “People with possible ties to terrorism who are not allowed on a plane shouldn’t be allowed to buy a gun.”

He’s absolutely right.

“Make it harder for terrorists to use these weapons to kill us,” Obama urged.

“Otherwise, despite extraordinary efforts, despite all the sacrifices that folks make, these kinds of events are going to keep on happening,” he said. “And the weapons are only going to get more powerful.”

The time for passing such legislation is long overdue. Hopefully, we’ve had enough, and agree, we’re finally ready.

Sheila Simmons is a former city editor at The Philadelphia Tribune.


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