A week ago tonight, they went to the movies to escape and were killed by a heavily armed gunman who police say bought thousands of rounds of ammunition by mail order. The appropriate condolences and expressions of sympathy have been made, from President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to families across the nation who recognize it could have been their children or friends at a midnight movie. Yet virtually no politician is talking about a sensible response to the Colorado massacre that killed 12 and wounded dozens of others.
Reasonable people ought to be able to agree that it should not be possible to purchase 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet with the same ease as buying a book or a song. Exactly why does anyone need that many bullets, and why do they need so many without a background check or someone raising questions?
Reasonable people ought to be able to agree that it should not be possible to buy gun clips that hold dozens of bullets. Police say Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes bought a 100-round magazine for an AR-15 rifle used in the theater attack. The loss of life could have been far worse if it had not jammed during the shooting.
Reasonable people ought to be able to agree that there is no reasonable legal use for assault weapons. The AR-15 rife used in the Colorado shootings and the 100-round magazine could not have been legally purchased under the 1994 assault weapons ban that President George W. Bush allowed to expire in 2004 and that Obama has declined to try to reinstate. Romney signed an assault weapons ban into law as Massachusetts governor in 2004, yet now opposes any gun control. Where is the leadership from the candidates for president?
By themselves, none of these reasonable changes would end gun violence. But the answer is not more guns, even as gun sales increase in the wake of the Colorado shootings. Some limits on how much ammunition can be purchased without any checks (particularly over the Internet), on the size of magazine clips and on assault weapons are common sense — no matter how loudly the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment absolutists protest.
The Colorado theater killings recall the shooting rampages that claimed 32 lives on the campus of Virginia Tech University in 2007; 13 lives in the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, shooting; and six lives in 2011 in Tucson, Ariz., where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was seriously wounded. Each time, the NRA and its allies squashed any talk about efforts to restrict ammunition, clips or assault rifles. Silence is not an answer, and reasonable voices should continue speak up for reasonable limits. They might not stop someone determined to kill innocent people, but they certainly could help lower the number of victims.