Members of Congress are wavering as they consider gun control legislation, trying to decide between crossing the National Rifle Association with its campaign contributions and other pressure and responding to the American people, who overwhelmingly favor such 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 ways to go.
The Connecticut Legislature, with Republican and Democratic participation, have developed a package of laws that provide for new limits on guns as well as measures to contend with mental health and school security. The problem of easy access to powerful weapons was outlined brutally in the December slaying of 20 first-graders and six school personnel at Newtown, Conn. In the legislation are a ban on the sale of magazines with more than 10 bullets, an expanded assault weapons prohibition, background checks to precede virtually all gun sales and a registry of all weapons offenders.
The NRA fielded a 225-page report by its National School Shield Task Force, headed by former Arkansas congressman Asa Hutchinson. The report proposes that there be armed police officers, security guards or other personnel in every school and asks the federal government to fund training courses designed by the NRA for armed school staff.
The Connecticut Legislature is trying to respond to its residents' repulsion at what happened to the children and their protectors at Newtown. The NRA, focusing on school safety to avoid the stigma of the school tragedy, is recommending action that would result in the sale of more weapons, their authorized introduction into America's schools and the obligation of school personnel to become gun users.
The approach of the Connecticut representatives is clearly the path to be followed by Congress and state legislatures to make our children safer. Americans are now about to see who in Washington and in state capitals has the courage and integrity to follow Connecticut's lead.