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Opinion >  Editorial

Outside View: Five years later, no progress on mass shootings

The following editorial is from the Hartford (Conn.) Courant.

Today they would be in sixth grade, getting ready for their school’s Ugly Sweater Day, maybe experiencing their first crush, joining the drama club, complaining about homework.

But instead, they and the women who died trying to protect them are in our thoughts and prayers. They are the 26 innocents who died at the hands of a madman at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012 – the day that broke Connecticut’s heart.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to first-graders and teachers in an enlightened state with tough gun laws. It wasn’t supposed to happen to mothers and fathers who entrusted their dearest treasures to what they thought were safe sanctuaries of learning.

But Connecticut couldn’t stop a twisted killer from amassing an arsenal and turning it on an elementary school. That’s because the National Rifle Association has brought gun ownership within reach of those with a rage to kill.

Five years after Sandy Hook, it is still far too easy for evil people to get guns and use them on schoolchildren, congregations, movie fans, ballplayers, concertgoers.

In no other country do mass shootings happen with the same frequency as in the United States. Even congressional Republicans who support the NRA are targets. No one is safe.

Yet the Republican-controlled Congress has long refused to stop the slaughter with sensible nationwide restrictions on the semi-automatics that are so popular with mass murderers. It won’t even allow gun violence to be studied by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And now congressional Republicans, not content with doing so little on the national front to protect the American people, are trying to relax states’ own protections. The top priority for the NRA this year is a bill requiring all states to recognize concealed-carry permits from any other state. This would let evildoers bypass Connecticut’s stringent permit process.

This dangerous bill is being linked to a very good bill that would strengthen the FBI background-check process. Saddling the good bill with the bad one makes it hard for decent congressmen and -women to vote for the good bill. That would jeopardize the chance to close loopholes like the one that let the Texas church shooter buy a semi-automatic weapon, despite his military conviction for domestic violence. He killed 26 people, including an 18-month-old.

Connecticut’s Legislature did pass some of the toughest gun legislation in the nation following the Sandy Hook shootings. There hasn’t been a mass killing with guns in this state since. But state borders are porous in this nation of 300 million guns.

“It is going to happen again,” said David Wheeler, who lost his 6-year-old, Benjamin, at Sandy Hook. “And every time, you know, it’s somebody else’s school, it’s somebody else’s town. It’s somebody else’s community until one day you wake up and it’s not.”

Despite their deep grief, parents like the Wheelers have done wonderful work in their children’s memory, but they shouldn’t have to do this on their own. Congress should be helping to prevent the next Sandy Hook, not enabling killers.

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