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Michael J. Daly: Take killing machine our of equation

April 8, 2018

Guns are here to stay. All kinds of them.

I have nothing against guns, nor against people who own them. To each his own. And, indeed, there is that constitutional right thing.

However, there is no need in our society for — nor should there be the right to own — a weapon like the one used last week to kill 17 high school students in Florida, 26 people at Sandy Hook School in 2012, 58 people in Las Vegas last October, 49 people at the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016, and so on... and so on... and so on.

The weapon was designed for the battlefield, and that’s where it should stay.

Yes, mental illness is a gorilla in the room in all these cases. Mental illness, by the way, is here to stay, too.

It’s a complicated issue. So complicated, in fact, Republicans in Congress would have you believe, that nothing can be done. That’s why nothing has been done. Claiming it’s complicated is an excuse for not standing up for what’s right.

So the talk goes on an on, heads hung in moments of silence — as 4th District U.S. Rep. Jin Himes famously remarked after walking out of one such performance, it should be a time for screaming — and nothing gets done.

Yes, it’s complicated. Bigotry, homophobia, religious fanaticism, bruised ego, any number of real, imagined and downright delusional slights can be motives for a mentally wobbly person to finally lose it.

By the way, none of those twisted motivations are going away any time soon, either. And they are things we cannot control.

But these guns — the genesis of the term is a little murky, but most accept the label “assault” weapons — we can control. From September 1994 to September 2004, in fact, we had a federal ban on assault weapons. So this is not some wild-eyed notion. The law expired in 2004 and — you may find this hard to believe — efforts by right-thinking people in Congress to renew the ban have gone nowhere. One would imagine the NRA is opposed to such blasphemy.

All of the factors noted above figure into the formula that with discouraging regularity produces a toxic product in this country: a slaughter. The one constant in the forrmula is a a high-powered weapon designed for the battlefield..

We need to — and can, with public will — take that element out of the formula. Then we can move on to addressing the other ingredients.

It won’t happen overnight. But it will happen eventually.

When they are no longer available legally for sale — the 19-year-old Florida shooter bought his legally — it will prevent similar horrors.

Little by little — faster would be wonderful — the frequency with which we hear of and live through these massacres will diminish.

The next homicidal maniac will likely be brooding and plotting over one or some combination of the factors mentioned above and, with his semi-automatic rifle — maybe equipped with a “bump stock,” which essentially converts the weapon into an automatic — will barge into a church, school, movie theater, music concert, parade, road race, whatever — and create his carnage.

These guns have no place in 21st century America.

Michael J. Daly is editor of the editorial page of the Connecticut Post. Email: mdaly@ctpost.com.