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Opinion >  Syndicated columns

Ed Rogers: GOP’s day of reckoning on guns is here

By Ed Rogers Special To The Washington Post

Well, here we are. Another horrific school shooting has gripped the country, and with it come the standard calls for Washington to do something. And it is time to do something. Republicans control the House, Senate and White House. We should be creative enough to come up with a few specific changes to the law, not something cosmetic or hollow, but some real initiatives that will make it harder for the evil among us to obtain the vicious weapons that have been used against innocents in recent years.

To do nothing has become untenable. The Democrats on the left and the media will howl that whatever Republicans do won’t be enough. But this isn’t about satisfying them. It is about acknowledging the problem everyone else sees and using the power that voters have given Republicans to do something about it. Americans are sending their kids off to school wondering whether they will come home. Republicans cannot choose to do nothing in the face of that reality.

For too long, supporters of a narrow reading of the Second Amendment have shied away from any sensible approaches to decreasing violence while also protecting one’s right to bear arms. But if the Second Amendment is your thing, you have to be fair and honestly contemplate how things have changed since and what existed when the Second Amendment was written.

Killing technology has come a long way, to say the least. As Max Boot wisely noted in the Post, “when the Second Amendment was adopted, the state-of-the-art firearm was a flintlock musket firing paper cartridges loaded with gunpowder and a lead ball.” The point is compelling. Just as with other dangerous elements in society, we have to do something to limit how accessible hyper-deadly guns are to those who wish to do harm. Otherwise, they will continue to fall into the hands of evil people who will kill our fellow countrymen. Nothing will fix the problem, but there is a lot that can be done to make it harder for a bad guy to get a killing machine and its accessories.

For Republicans who may be hesitant to come out and support practical changes to the nation’s gun laws, just look at what a sensible, solid conservative such as Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., had to say on the matter. In the New York Times last week, Toomey said, “I’m a big believer in the Second Amendment, I’m a gun owner and take my son shooting … I think it’s completely reasonable to make it more difficult for those who do not have a legitimate right to a firearm to obtain them.” Well said.

And if Toomey’s words weren’t enough for you, no less than Michael Savage – who is beyond right-wing – believes some gun control is necessary. Being strong on the Second Amendment does not mean one should not take a stand against those who seek to harm the public. And if any GOP politicians think they need cover, there is plenty of cover.

To begin with, most Americans support passing some sort of reforms. Just look at “bump stocks.” According to an NPR/Ipsos poll, 80 percent of the country favors banning the “accessory used by the Las Vegas shooter that allows a semi-automatic rifle to fire like an automatic weapon.” Some may oppose a ban on bump stocks, but the fact is, virtually no one knew what bump stocks were before the Las Vegas shooting. And since no one knew what they were then, no one should miss them when they are gone. Simply put, no one in his or her right mind should think the rate of fire from a semiautomatic AR-15 is insufficient. Anyone who does should be suspect.

Anyway, there is a lot that Republicans can do without falling back or relying on the “mental health” buzzwords. The day of reckoning is here, and I don’t want to go into the midterms without the GOP having done something to tangibly combat gun violence. The American gun culture is real. But the National Rifle Association’s supposed control over the GOP is a myth. We have to do something about the staggering and escalating number of incidents where innocent victims – who are too often children – are being slaughtered.

As a note to those who will send in hate mail, just remember that it is R-I-N-O. There’s no H. If you want to call me a RINO, then so be it. My conscience is clear.

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