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Published: Friday, 3/9/2012

Taking on the guns

Homicides, virtually all of them committed with guns, are increasing this year in Detroit. The city has long struggled with senseless violence, but what is drawing a lot of attention now is the number of children who are involved.

In January, 12-year old Kadejah Davis died when a teenager fired shots through the front door of her home. Days later, a 14-year-old boy was arrested for shooting his mother to death because she wouldn't let him stay out at night.

Nine-month-old Delric Waymon Miller died when a gunman riddled his home with bullets from an AK-47, the standard military assault rifle used by the old Soviet Union. Police believe the house was shot up because of an argument over who got to sit where at a baby shower.

Irresponsible adult behavior was a factor in these deaths. But the too-easy availability of guns was also a factor.

There are too many guns on the streets. Gun laws are too lax and insufficiently enforced. The powerful gun lobby continues to insist that any gun regulation is a threat to Americans' freedom forbidden by the Second Amendment.

For the first time in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly defined a constitutional right to possess a firearm. But even one of the most pro-gun justices, Antonin Scalia, expressly stated that states still can enact restrictions on who owns guns and how they are sold, and forbid them in "sensitive places such as schools and government buildings."

Politicians have mostly given up trying to address the issue, saying privately that the gun lobby's resistance is too strong to overcome. That's not good enough. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing correctly called Baby Delric's murder "unacceptable," although he failed to say what should be done about it.

Better gun laws are not the only solution, but they are a big part of the answer. The sooner Americans understand that a nation where almost anyone can get his hands on a Soviet assault rifle is a nation where no one is safe, the better our chances of fixing the problem will be.

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