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Time to Adopt Laws That Prevent Gun Violence, Like When We Adopted Laws to Prevent Racial Injustice

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Now let me say that the next thing we must be concerned about... is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life." -- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

President Obama announced it last week through a new website, in characteristically sleek, high-tech, but heartfelt, fashion.

Fifty years ago this year, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. invoked poetry at the Lincoln Memorial to make its case for racial justice.

Despite the banal protestations of the gun lobby, including the NRA's leadership, it cannot be denied: Now is the time.

During the week when we celebrate the inauguration of America's first black president and our national holiday for the most prominent crusader for racial justice, now is the time to recognize that we must adopt laws and policies to prevent gun violence, the way we once adopted laws and policies to prevent racial injustice and violence.

Twenty crayon-loving innocents slaughtered in their classrooms and six caring adults felled by their sides;

Seventy multiple shootings since Tucson;

More than a million Americans killed by guns since 1968;

Now is the time.

Gun murders in Chicago on pace to exceed the high of 2012;

Gun murder is the No. 1 cause of death for black males, ages 15 - 19, since 1969;

Community violence, including gun violence, has the equivalent emotional impact on children as war or natural disaster;

Now is the time.

The gun lobby, its supporters in Congress, and gun enthusiasts across our fruited plains have long barred the door to reforming the nation's gun laws and policies, the way Gov. George Wallace stood at the door of a University of Alabama auditorium in an effort to halt integration.

The lobby and its supporters use heated and threatening rhetoric, just as segregationists did in their cause, and insist that they would not move an inch to prevent gun deaths by supporting sensible laws, such as Brady background checks on all gun sales, the banning of large ammunition magazines and assault weapons, or the registration of guns. Moreover, they forced the adoption of federal mandates that have kept the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health from studying the dangers of guns and the impact of gun violence on our society.

Refreshingly, President Obama will press Congress to adopt new laws to make us safer and overturn or amend by executive order other policies, as outlined in his new gun violence prevention proposals (many of which were recommended by the Brady Campaign).

Just as the American people finally recognized the morally bankrupt mindset that denied African Americans the right to attend any school, drink from any fountain, or be served at any restaurant, and that turned a blind eye to the beating, lynching, murder and unjust imprisonment of African Americans, they now have awakened to the deadly mindset that has put too many children in graves, and too many communities in the grip of gun-manufactured terrorism.

Americans recognize that now is the time to arrest the fatal strain of thought that says the Second Amendment forbids us to change a single life-threatening policy or social norm. It's clear that those who claim to love freedom really love more the idea of lots of guns for just about anyone; darn the bloody and traumatic consequences.

In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, Americans understand, as King did 50 years ago when he spoke on the National Mall, that truly we are better than this. We must affirm "the sacredness of human life" and move swiftly toward the sunlight of a safer nation.

Robust support and advocacy of President Obama's proposals is a great beginning.