Editorial: Is now the time to talk about gun laws? If not now, when?

Now is the time to talk

Over and over you hear or read comments from the more vocal interpreters and supporters of the Second Amendment after one of the now frequent mass shootings in the United States that now is not the time for debate because it tends to politicize the issue.

Texans have a word for that. It is eight letters long and begins with “bull.”

This is not at attack on the Second Amendment to the U.S Constitution, which reads: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

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Those 27 words have prompted millions of other words in point and counterpoint. They also have prompted millions of dollars in contributions to politicians from the National Rifle Association in defense of the Second Amendment and in support of the rights of gun owners.

But a rational discussion about how to minimize – “stop” is the desirable but probably unobtainable goal – the death toll from determined killers is always in order.

When the Second Amendment was written, a trained soldier was capable of firing about four rounds a minute. Today’s firearms are capable of a much higher rate of fire even in their semi-automatic versions.

Steps taken do not have to be draconian. Here are two:

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It is a violation of federal law – with a 10-year prison sentence – to modify a semi-automatic firearm to fully automatic. Let’s add to that any device or equipment that is clearly meant to circumvent the law – including, especially – the so-called “bump stock.”

The ban on high-capacity magazines expired in 2004 when Congress failed to extend the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. But states can reimpose those restrictions. Let’s demand that they do so.