The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 29, 2013

Shame on us if we've forgotten

Daily Item

---- — Three months after the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., that claimed more than 20 innocent lives, what have we done? What have we really accomplished as a nation?

There has been a lot of talk by both sides. Vice President Joe Biden spent the better part of a month campaigning to find backers for gun control. NRA head Wayne LaPierre drew his own line in the sand, appearing on Sunday news programs nearly every weekend to battle for 2nd Amendment rights.

Scoring political points in today's divisive nation is typically an important goal because more often than not those who yell the loudest are heard the most. But on this issue, and in this time, political points mean little.

Something significant has to be done, not just because of what happened in Newtown or Aurora or Tucson, but so another town's name is not added to that list.

Those are tragedies we cannot forget, ever.

"Shame on us if we've forgotten," the President Barack Obama said last week as he appeared with families of the Newtown victims. Yet that seems like what has happened, at least for now.

Two weeks ago Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Democrats lacked the votes to pass a gun bill if the assault-weapons ban was included, so leadership spiked the entire bill until next month.

There are times when getting the bill passed isn't as important has having the debate, the entire debate. Get all the cards out of the table, on both sides, and get something meaningful accomplished. At least it can be a starting point toward getting a bill passed in the very-near future.

More than 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks, a number that is even higher among gun owners. Start the debate right there.

We cannot afford not to act. Nor can we afford to forget. Now is the time for our leaders, the people we have put in Washington to make difficult decisions, to stand up and be counted.

"The courage that was demonstrated by those teachers (in Newtown), we don't expect the same amount of courage from our elected officials," Biden said last week. "We do expect them to have the courage to stand up and take responsible action to end this senseless violence."

The time is over to kick the issue down the road. Some issues are bigger than the next campaign contribution or the next election.