Members of Congress are wavering as they consider gun-control legislation. They must choose between crossing the National Rifle Association, with its campaign contributions and other pressure, and responding to Americans who overwhelmingly favor tougher controls in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings and other massacres.
The State of Connecticut and the NRA are presenting two different paths to travel. Connecticut’s legislature has enacted a bipartisan package that provides for new limits on guns as well as measures that address mental-health and school- security issues.
The problem of easy access to powerful weapons was outlined brutally in the December slayings of 20 first-graders and six school employees at Newtown, Conn. The state legislation includes a ban on the sale of magazines with more than 10 rounds, an expanded assault-weapons prohibition, mandatory background checks before virtually all gun sales, and a registry of weapons offenders.
For its part, the NRA offered a report by a task force headed by former Arkansas congressman Asa Hutchinson. It proposes armed police officers, security guards, or other personnel in every school. It asks the federal government to pay for training courses designed by the NRA for armed school staff.
Connecticut lawmakers seek to respond to residents’ revulsion at what happened to the children and their protectors at Newtown. The NRA, seeking to avoid the stigma of the school tragedy, proposes measures that would result in the sale of more weapons, their authorized introduction into American schools, and the obligation of school employees to become gun users.
Connecticut’s approach provides a clear path for Congress and other state legislatures — including Ohio’s and Michigan’s — to take to make our children safer. Americans will see who in Washington and state capitals has the courage and integrity to follow Connecticut’s lead.