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Dunsmore: The New Normal

04/06/12 7:55AM By Barrie Dunsmore
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(Host) Seven people were killed this week when an apparently disgruntled former student opened fire on students and staff of a religious college near Oakland, California. Commentator Barrie Dunsmore, veteran diplomatic and foreign correspondent for ABC News, calls this "the new normal."

(Dunsmore) Screaming people fleeing a school or shopping center. Hysterical parents racing to the scene to rescue their children. Police SWAT teams searching for the gunman - who usually turns out to have mental problems. Television cameras descend upon the carnage. In interviews with the wounded and survivors, one feels their sense of loss and admires their courage.

It could be Tuscon, where just over a year ago, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was gravely wounded and six others were killed including a lovely nine year old named Christina Green. It could be Virginia Tech where 32 people were killed. Or it could be Oakland. Eventually the communities or schools come together in supporting each other. News reporters talk about "closure' and the coverage inevitably morphs into a feel good story. Not a single word about the common factor in these and many other such tragedies - the eight hundred pound gorilla that is sitting right in the midst of each calamity - the far too easy access to deadly automatic weapons.

Today I see no point in trying to re-litigate the 2008 and 2010 Supreme Court rulings on the Second Amendment, which reversed a century of case law and extended gun rights to individuals - giving a clear victory to the National Rifle Association in its decades long battle against any form of gun control.

And I am certainly not interested in taking peoples' guns away. I respect the right of hunters to own guns, especially in places like Vermont and in much of the country where hunting is a part of the culture. I can also see the need some people may have for wanting to have a gun for personal security.

So perhaps since the fundamental right to own a gun has been settled by the Supreme Court, reasonable people could come together on some common sense rules and regulations governing such ownership.

A good start would be the reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons, which was allowed to lapse in 2004. Does anyone believe that the Framers of the Constitution, wise and worldly men like Jefferson, Adams, and Madison  would have thought it was a good idea for Americans to have easy access to the type of guns that could wipe out an entire company of George Washington's Continental Army in about a minute? Or, for that matter, that the Framers would think it prudent that concealed weapons be legal in schools, workplaces, parks, churches, sporting events and even bars as is increasingly the case?

Today America has more guns than people. Yet gun fanatics and the NRA block any rational regulations - using the bogus claim that President Obama is out to get their guns. In fact, since 2008, not one Democratic Party leader- including the one in the White House - has publicly uttered the words "gun control." This may be a pragmatic bow to the prevailing political winds. But as mass shootings become commonplace, it is hardly a profile in political courage.

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