OUR VIEW: We must have the will to keep our children safe | Ap

Second Amendment

It seems that no number of school shooting victims is high enough to spur the discussion of sensible gun legislation in the United States.

The conventional wisdom is that if 26 dead at Sandy Hook didn’t prompt serious reflection, almost nothing would. Uvalde was no less horrifying and tragic, but the end result was the same.

Once the initial shock and horror wore off, it was business as usual across America, in Congress and for the gun lobby.

Don’t expect anything different after the latest incident, in which a 28-year-old woman shot her way into The Convenant School in Nashville, Tenn. — where she had once been a student — and slaughtered three 9-year-old children and three staff members.

The murder spree ended when two Nashville police officers confronted the murderer and ended the threat.

As these murderous school shootings tend to do, this one renewed the periodic national debate over gun control, access to weapons and mental illness.

We’ve seen all this before. A mass shooting happens and most people with are horrified. But others immediately leap to frame the event in political terms.

Many Democrats renew long-standing calls for a return to the assaault-weapons ban that existed from 1994-2004. Republicans and the NRA are painted as soulless cads who wrap themselves in the Second Amendment and don’t care about children becoming targets of mass murderers.

Many Republicans dutifully offer up thoughts and prayers, but often add that the time to discuss new gun legislation is not now, as grief-stricken families are burying children they sent to school in the morning and will never see again.

So when is the right time to talk about doing something — anything — to limit the instant availability of AR-15s and AK-47s and even run-of-the-mill handguns to anyone with the money to acquire them?

The Nashville shooter reportedly had legally purchased seven weapons, including the two AR-15s and a handgun she brought with to The Covenant School a week ago Monday.

She reportedly hid the weapons from her parents, with whom she lived, presumably because they might have served as a “red flag” of sorts. Some states have actual red-flag laws, which ideally get in the way of people who are dealing with mental or criminal issues trying to buy weapons.

The Nashville shooter, reportedly undergoing treatment for emotional issues, would seem to be just such a person. But Tennessee has no red-flag law, perhaps because it has politicians like GOP U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, who had this to say a day after the shooting:

“It’s a horrible, horrible situation. and we’re not gonna fix it. Criminals are gonna be criminals.”

We can’t accept that.

It will never be OK for Innocents — especially children — to be collateral damage because we don’t have the will to talk about guns and mental illness.

We can — and we must — do better.

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