The war on guns

After the latest bloody mass shooting — last week at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut — we are once again left numb and feeling helpless at the senseless violence.

Twenty-six lives wiped out — 20 young children and six teachers and staff. The shooter — a low-functioning, troubled individual, unfortunately schooled in how to shoot automatic weapons by his survivalist mom — took his own life, but not before blowing away his instructor.

It seems like just yesterday that we were reading about and seeing shocking images of Gabbie Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman gunned down by a crazed shooter. Though severely and permanently injured, Giffords survived. Six others weren’t so lucky. Giffords has become a face of gun violence. Every time we see her on TV, we’re painfully reminded of our country’s gun insanity.

After Tucson there was a flurry of calls for stricter gun control, for a ban on automatic weapons, at least on high-capacity ammunition clips. However, politicians’ fear of the powerful gun lobby resulted in the same old inertia.

This time, though, it seems there is real momentum to achieve reform. The horror of little lives rubbed out by a disturbed individual is just too much to bear. A collective realization is sweeping the country that we must do something, and do it now.

President Obama, showing a refreshing resolve to take on the N.R.A. and try to sway the cowardly, self-interested politicians, has finally called for regulations on high-capacity clips and automatic weapons, as he must. That caliber firepower simply isn’t needed by average people.

Here in the Village, local spiritual leaders and community leaders gathered in Washington Square Park on a damp, dreary evening last weekend to mourn Newtown’s victims and pray for an end to the madness — and to demand reform.

They came together, Christians, Jews and Muslims, to decry our country’s culture of violence and the weapons with which that violence is perpetrated. They were joined by David Gruber and Corey Johnson, respective chairpersons of Community Boards 2 and 4; state Senator-elect Brad Hoylman; and Councilmember Margaret Chin.

It is time. Sensible people must rise up to limit the culture of violence.

Speaking Friday night at a benefit for Native American activist Leonard Peltier — who remains in jail for the shooting death of two F.B.I. agents four decades ago — filmmaker Michael Moore, reworked the N.R.A.’s favorite motto, saying fatalistically, “Guns don’t kill people, Americans kills people.” However, if our nation wasn’t armed to the teeth with heavy weaponry, far fewer people would be losing their lives.

Also locally, we’re glad to hear City Council candidate Yetta Kurland — who led her own gun-control vigil over the weekend — say she has given up her gun, which she had claimed she needed variously because she is a “court officer” and because of her former language school’s post-9/11 security protocol. But we also would have liked to hear Kurland say she disposed of the gun properly by turning it in at a local police precinct or district attorney-approved buyback program — to get one more gun out of circulation — but she didn’t respond to our question.

Rather embarrassingly, in her statement to us, she tried to use Senator Chuck Schumer and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as examples of other political figures who have possessed gun licenses. But in Schneiderman’s case he really was in law enforcement, and in Schumer’s case it’s completely false — he never had a gun or gun license! Kurland shot blanks on that one.

Finally, Mayor Bloomberg absolutely deserves recognition for pressuring the president to step up and strengthen our nation’s gun laws. Bloomberg’s staunch gun-control stance may be the most enduring part of his legacy as mayor, and he is doing himself — and our city — proud at this moment.

In the chilling aftermath of Newtown, working together with a renewed will, we can save our country from future senseless gun violence.

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