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Fighting the good war on guns

After another bloody mass shooting — this time at the Newtown elementary school in Connecticut — we are once again left numb and feeling helpless at the senseless violence.

Twenty-six lives wiped out — 20 young children and six teachers and staff. The shooter — a low-functioning, troubled individual, unfortunately schooled in how to shoot automatic weapons by his survivalist mom — took his own life, but not before blowing away his instructor.

Every day since has been a ‘typical’ day in our country with multiple killings from gunshot wounds — the Christmas Eve murder of two firefighters in Upstate New York has gotten the most media attention. Unfortunately, there is too much truth to filmmaker Michael Moore’s statement that ‘Guns don’t kill people, Americans kill people.’

It seems like just yesterday that we were reading about and seeing shocking images of Gabbie Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman gunned down by a crazed shooter. Though severely and permanently injured, Giffords survived. Six others weren’t so lucky. Giffords has become a face of gun violence. Every time we see her on TV, we’re painfully reminded of our country’s gun insanity.

After Tucson there was a flurry of calls for stricter gun control, for a ban on automatic weapons, at least on high-capacity ammunition clips. However, politicians’ fear of the powerful gun lobby resulted in the same old inertia.

This time, though, it seems there is real momentum to achieve reform since even some reliable N.R.A. supporters in Congress have voiced support for common sense restrictions. The horror of young lives rubbed out by a disturbed individual is just too much to bear. A collective realization is sweeping the country that we must do something, and do it now.

President Obama, showing a refreshing resolve to take on the N.R.A. and try to sway the cowardly, self-interested politicians, has finally called forcefully for regulations on high-capacity clips and automatic weapons, as he must. That caliber firepower simply isn’t needed by average people.

Here Downtown, spiritual, community and political leaders have been coming together to pray for an end to the madness — and to demand reform.

Finally, Mayor Bloomberg absolutely deserves recognition for pressuring the president to step up and strengthen our nation’s gun laws. Bloomberg’s staunch gun-control stance may be the most enduring part of his legacy as mayor, and he is doing himself — and our city — proud at this moment.

In the chilling aftermath of Newtown, working together with a renewed will, we can save lives by reducing the amount of senseless gun violence.

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