Consensus can be found on gun issue

Published 9:29 am Monday, February 26, 2018

Last week, Americans were stricken with grief and shock as reports of another deadly school shooting filled the airwaves and the debate over the issue of guns has again become the central focus of coverage in the following days.

However, it appears there is now more momentum to push for action than in times past.

Whether through emotional exhaustion from the public from the sheer number of shootings, or through the survivors in Parkland like Emma Gonzalez organizing and speaking out, it appears, this time, the desire for action is spreading beyond the usual voices on the left side of the debate.

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On Sunday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, who once strongly touted his 2014 endorsement from the National Rifle Association, called on Congress and the president to adopt at least some forms of gun control.

Kasich stressed he is still strongly pro-Second Amendment, but said leaders should examine measures such as increased background checks or a restriction on the sales of weapons such as AR-15s.

And Trump, usually stridently right-leaning on most issues, has also suggested he is open to changes in existing laws.

On Tuesday, the president signed a memo directing the Justice Department to craft possible regulations to “ban all devices” like the rapid-fire bump stocks, attachments which allow semi-automatics to fire faster, effectively turning them into machine guns.

Citing the “horrific massacre” in Florida, the president has also signaled his support for a bill by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, and John Cornyn, R-Texas, to improve criminal background checks systems.

The bill would require federal agencies to report all criminal infractions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and would create financial incentives for states to also do so.

These measures, which have been languishing, could be a solid first step toward addressing the issue.

We applaud both the governor and the president for stepping up and taking these intial steps to help protect our schools. While the debate over the Second Amendment and what our founders intended will go on for months, these immediate steps will increase the likelihood that background checks, bump stocks and other safety measures may be immediately taken.

And, in addition to the gun debate, a need exists to look at other factors in these incidents, such as access to mental health care and the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies and reporting of warning signs and threats.

We hope that, as this conversation takes place, the debate can be civil and that both sides and both parties can come together to find a solution that curtail this epidemic of violence.

Inaction has been far too costly and is simply no longer acceptable.