Many hoped, and some even predicted, that the horror of the Newtown massacre of Dec. 14, 2012 — 18 months ago tomorrow — would spur a national effort to keep guns out of the wrong hands. That hope remains unrequited: The carnage continues.
On Tuesday, a 15-year-old freshman at a high school in Troutdale, Ore., armed to the teeth with an AR-15 military-style rifle with nine magazines and an automatic pistol, killed a 14-year-old student and wounded a teacher before apparently taking his own life. This shooting occurred two days after a shooting in Las Vegas that saw two police officers and a bystander killed in a restaurant and a Walmart, and less than a week after a shooting on the campus of a small university in Seattle.
On May 23, a troubled 22-year-old named Elliot Rodger killed seven people and wounded 13 near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He had legally purchased three 9mm handguns.
The pro-gun reform group Everytown For Gun Safety, supported by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, says there have been at least 74 shootings in or around schools since the Newtown tragedy. The Portland Oregonian, among other media outlets, reviewed this claim and determined that about half the shootings involved a shooter on campus during school hours.
That's not frightening enough?
If there's to be sensible reform — such as universal background checks — it's going to require a change in public opinion. There has to be a tipping point where people decide that the danger of shootings in a school or other public place is greater than the danger of government agents coming to take the guns away from law-abiding gun owners.
How to get there? Why not tell Connecticut's story? The state has been passing sensible gun laws at least since 1999, when it passed — and Republican Gov. John G. Rowland signed — a gun seizure law. That law empowers police to obtain warrants to confiscate firearms from people who have not committed any crime with them but are displaying signs that they have become mentally unstable and might shoot themselves or someone else.
After Newtown, the state passed an extensive gun safety bill that included universal background checks, safer storage requirements, a gun crime registry, long gun permits and requirements. The most controversial part of the legislation, a ban on new purchases of assault-style rifles, seems to have calmed down.
These laws have kept guns out of the hands of thousands of people who should not have them, and have not infringed on the Second Amendment rights of anyone. No law-abiding gun owner that we are aware of has had a firearm seized by the government.
Newtown happened here; Connecticut is not immune to crazed gun violence. But reasonable gun safety laws are working in Connecticut. If the slaughter continues, people eventually may listen to our story, and vote for congressional candidates who aren't afraid of the gun lobby.