The horror of the Sept. 11 attacks did not quickly fade away -- its still has not faded, really. America changed the way it protects itself after those attacks. And while Homeland Security sometimes overreaches, at least nobody can say we watched the World Trade Centers fall and did nothing.
In Newtown, Conn., and among parents of schoolchildren across the country, comparisons to 9/11 keep coming up. The wrenching pain last week of the execution of 20 innocent children and of six brave adults trying to protect them inspires the same transformative fear, a sense that no one is really safe. It's not just Newtown's child-survivors who will never see the world the same way again.
Will Americans let this
This is the time to talk about it. Ignore the cynical posturing about a time of mourning. There is no better way to honor the dead of Sandy Hook Elementary School than to introduce legislation and begin a conversation about common-sense regulation.
Shrill warnings by gun-rights activists portray President Barack Obama as ready to "take away our guns." In fact,
Gaining traction instead is the idea that people would be safer if everyone carried guns -- a position being advanced by the National Rifle Association. The Michigan Legislature just passed a law permitting concealed weapons in schools; school boards across the state are pleading for a veto. If loaded weapons were everywhere, especially around kids, you wouldn't need mass killers like Newtown's to create carnage. Rather, you'd have many more tragedies like the one earlier this month in Pennsylvania, where a 7-year-old was killed when his dad's gun went off as they were getting into a car.
Strengthening guns laws will not solve the problem by itself, but it is a place to start.
It is a process that we should begin right now.
The NRA may be the most powerful lobbying organization of all time. Any lawmaker who even hints at supporting gun restrictions is in its cross hairs, a political tactic that effectively keeps this issue from the national conversation.
Raising voices of reason now could at least begin to turn the tide.