Six months ago, on a December day that was a bit on the warm side, a deranged young man killed his mother and then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where he killed 20 small children and six women before taking his own life.
The massacre shocked the nation. Leaders from President Obama on down vowed to take steps to prevent such a horror in the future.
How are we doing?
On the state level, pretty well. The Newtown murders consumed the first two months of the General Assembly's 2014 session, culminating in a comprehensive gun safety bill, arguably the toughest in the country. It expanded the state's ban on assault-style weapons, such as the one used in the Newtown murders; created a registry of weapons offenders; banned the sale of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition; and toughened penalties for gun trafficking and straw purchases.
This achievement was dampened at the end of the session with the passage of an overly broad law that blocks the release of photos or videos of homicide victims.
But compared with the federal response, the state blazed a path of glory.
Some members of Congress initially proposed strong federal gun safety regulations, but these fell by the wayside as the gun lobby turned the heat on.
Finally, in April, the Senate failed to pass a bill calling for expanded background checks on gun purchases, a measure overwhelmingly supported by the American public.
But unlike past efforts to strengthen gun safety laws, this one has not gone away. Newtown families are in Washington again this week pushing for sensible gun safety measures. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other mayors are bringing the heat on senators who voted against the background check bill.
Perhaps more important, there is a national discussion about gun safety. Many people now know that guns take the lives of more than 31,000 people a year, almost as many as die in car accidents.
The carnage continues. Last week a gunman killed five people in Santa Monica, Calif., before being killed by police. Four people were killed yesterday in St. Louis. In Prescott Valley, Ariz., last week, a 4-year-old boy found a loaded gun in the home of a family friend and accidentally killed his father with it.
What is it going to take?Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun