The recent mass shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin have produced the usual response to gun-control advocates: That this is not the "proper" time to discuss such a serious issue. But now is precisely the time to have that discussion, and for the President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, to show they can be the statesmen the country needs and deserves.

The candidates should hold a joint news conference and announce that whoever wins the election will back legislation to stop the proliferation of military-grade weapons and accessories. The legislation could include a ban on military grade weapons and require anyone who currently owns such weapons to surrender them after a year, and the government would compensate them.

It could also tax ammunition for such weapons at a punitive rate and limit the sale of ammunition to only what is required for hunting. Any number of other restrictions and accommodation could be added, depending on what Congress and the president decide.

If the legislation were introduced before the November election, the bill could be called the Obama-Romney Gun Safety Bill of 2012. Speaker of the House John Boehner has suggested that the House would consider discussing some kind of gun control. The only thing lacking is the willingness to act in the best interests of the American people.

Stanley R. Baker, Gambrills