State and federal politicians have been scrambling for the last few weeks to react to the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., with governors, congressmen and the president exploring new laws that might have prevented that tragic massacre. But today, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced the outlines of a package of legislation that would do much more than merely react to that terrible act. He pledged to take some of the steps that many of his peers are pursuing, such as a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, but also to pursue a comprehensive licensing system for handgun buyers. That last proposal will be difficult to enact, even in heavily Democratic Maryland, but it could be the most helpful step the legislature could take this year to stop the flow of illegal guns that contributes to hundreds of murders in Baltimore every year.