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December 14, 2012 at 3:25 PM

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Shooting rampage leaves a nation grieving and politicians dithering


The shooting rampage that left 20 elementary school children dead should spur a vigorous examination of America's violence-loving culture and easy access to weapons.

It is stunning the way this shooting and those in the long list of past shooting rampages have taken the lives of innocent people in the midst of the most innocuous activities. Children as young as 5 sitting in their classrooms. Or taking in a movie, as were the 12 people fatally shot and 58 others injured during a rampage at an Aurora Colo theatre in July. Or holiday shopping as were the two people killed and one wounded in an Oregon shopping mall by a gunman who then killed himself.

The shooter, identified as Adam Lanza, was found dead with two firearms, including a Glock and Sig Sauer. Another gun, a 223 Bushmaster was found nearby. Even still, most lawmakers today, including President Obama, were careful to express sympathy but steer clear of gun control talk.

I get that there is no stopping some people from doing horrible things. A knife-wielding assailant attacked 22 kids in Henan province in China on Friday. The assault on schoolkids was eerily reminiscent of one in 2010 that killed nearly 20 and wounded more than 50. We cannot stop all the horrors of the world.

But back in America, shaking our heads in sympathy and hugging our own kids a little tighter is not enough to prevent gunfire the next time. We have to talk about guns. Some will say this is politicizing a tragedy. If the parents of the dead Connecticut students could have their children back through an act of Congress, I suspect they'd say politicize away.

The real politicization of this issue comes from bumper-sticker style responses such as "guns don't kill, people do" or weak defenses of the Second Amendment. The second and third word in the Second Amendment is well regulated. Regulations. Sounds like a plan.

My colleage, Bruce Ramsey, and I debate gun control here. After a spate of gun violence in Seattle at the beginning of this year, the Times editorial board called for tightening access to guns as part of a multi-pronged solution.

My heart grieves with the Newtown, Conn., families tonight. "There is no crime greater than violence against children, no sorrow greater than that of a parent who has lost a child, especially in this horrible way," a New York Times editorial reads. Over time, I hope it gives them a bit of solace to know tragedy may have been the final straw for Americans growing tired of gun violence.

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