The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 21, 2012

Tell Congress to disarm mass killers

Daily Item

---- — U.S. Rep. Tom Marino's Facebook page includes a ribbon honoring the victims of the Newton, Conn., school shooting, but includes no statement from the congressman. On the day of the shooting Marino posted a comment about a dog-fighting operation in Philadelphia, citing his proposed legislation targeting spectators at animal fights.

While Marino did not address the shootings, his constituents did, with more than 40 Facebook comments posted on Marino's page about the school shooting.

On the day of the massacre, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta acknowledged the shootings, saying his thoughts and prayers were with the families. Since then, he has not mentioned the incident.

Contacted by reporters days later, Barletta and Marino said that a number of factors may have been at play in the shooting, including school safety, mental health care, violence in the media and firearm regulations. The lawmakers correctly recognize the complexity involved in trying to prevent future attacks, but there is broad sentiment across the country that Washington ought to be able to address the tools used by mass killers.

President Barack Obama tapped into the national mood when he described the need to respond effectively.

"Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage?" the president asked. "That the politics are too hard?"

Today, the National Rifle Association plans to make its first official statement since the attacks. In a preview, the organization acknowledged that members were "heart-broken" over the shooting.

The real leadership on this issue must come from elected leaders with the credibility among NRA members.

Look to West Virginia's U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and Virginia's U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, both pro-gun Democratic lawmakers, who have stepped forward to say that we must have a rational discussion about gun control.

If not them, consider Rep. Jack Kingston, a Republican from Georgia, with an A Rating from the NRA, who said that Republicans risk becoming "the people who defend Glocks" instead of the people who stand up for children.

Our Congress members, Marino and Barletta, are among lawmakers who could make a difference with courageous leadership at this watershed moment.

They can reflect the broad, caring constituency that seeks reasonable and positive action to protect unarmed, peaceable citizens and small children from falling prey to spree shooters.

If you can offer them encouragement, they may welcome your support.