OTHER VOICES

334,168 gun deaths

Posted July 26, 2012, at 5:02 p.m.

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney have both passed through the San Francisco Bay Area. Each offered words of sympathy and eloquence to remember the victims and soothe the survivors of the July 20 movie-theater massacre in Aurora, Colo.

Neither was brave enough to talk about the most obvious lesson of the scale of that horror: Weapons of war such as the AR-15 assault rifle do not belong in civilian hands.

Romney spoke to supporters who had paid between $2,500 and $10,000 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco to hear what he had to say about free trade. Obama was filling his campaign coffers at the Fox Theater in Oakland, talking up his economic plans to supporters who paid between $100 and $7,000. If they can’t bring up the critical issue of gun control in the Bay Area in front of the friendliest of their many audiences — and in a state where legislators had the sense to outlaw assault rifles such as the model that was unleashed on theatergoers in Colorado — how will they bring it up before Congress?

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence estimates that there have been 334,168 gun deaths since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In the wake of this latest tragedy, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has been one of the few people in Washington to call for a renewal of the federal ban on assault weapons, a ban that she originally authored in 1993 after another mass shooting. The ban expired in 2004 for no reason other than political timidity.

Expressions of grief and condolences, however genuinely delivered, will not stop anyone from going into a gun shop to buy an AR-15. This nation deserves leadership, and action, to stop the madness.

San Francisco Chronicle (July 23)

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