THE BLOG
12/18/2012 01:25 pm ET Updated Feb 17, 2013

Are We Awake Yet?

Three days after a man killed two others and then himself in an Oregon shopping mall, one shooter killed 26 people, including 18 children. In one kindergarten classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary located in Newtown, Conn., nearly every living soul was killed.

Nineteen years ago we enacted a federal law essentially banning assault rifles for civilian use. In 2004 that ban expired and any attempt at renewing the ban has proven fruitless.

In 2011 we had a U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords shot in the head while six others were killed. Despite this tragedy, no new gun restrictions were able to be passed.

Special interest groups, led by the NRA, have a stranglehold on politicians and the decisions they make. When faced with a choice between doing something good for our nation and having less campaign funds or losing the endorsements of the NRA some politicians will always opt for what will help them get re-elected.

We live in a country which extends the right to bear arms to people on the terror watch list and when an Islamic extremist leader makes a video instructing sympathizers in the U.S. to arm themselves at gun shows because it is simple to get a gun without a background check, we did nothing.

Not only are we not able to pass any meaningful reform, but many states are loosening restrictions. Just one day before the shooting, the Michigan legislature, in all their infinite wisdom, passed legislation which would allow people to carry guns into schools.

There is a reason why my states does not allow my five-year-old to drive my car. She would likely hurt herself and others. She does not have the motor skills or the necessary mental capacity required to operate a vehicle safely.

You can be enamored with the Wild West, but if what excites you is the thought of a well armed American populace then you might want to put down the Louis L'amour books long enough for you to return to the 21st century.

This is no time for trite phrases such as, "guns don't kill people, people kill people." This particular tragedy does not take place without the existence of a gun. Any attempt to remove the murder weapon from the equation is disingenuous and less than clever. This is a time to get real. Twenty-six innocent people are dead and a Connecticut community is devastated.

Conservative gun rights groups see any new restrictions enacted as potentially leading to just more restrictive provisions, but I have talked to more than a couple avid hunters who are very much in favor of more restrictive access to guns, because they know that horrific events like what occurred in Connecticut do not help their cause. Their interest is in hunting, not defending lax gun laws which do nothing to prevent situations like what is currently devastating the community of Newtown, Conn.

Liberals need to accept also that this battle is uphill, but there are some gun reform proposals that we should start working on now. We can start by eliminating the gun show loophole. A requirement of a background check in order to purchase a gun should never be seen as too restrictive.

What about assault rifles and other weapons that are capable of great destruction? Can we expect in today's environment to reenact the assault rifles ban? Not likely, but we can use the same tactic that the religious right has used to great effect concerning access to abortions. On both the federal and state level we can seek to enact ever more restrictive regulations concerning access to guns. Make so many hoops that it is prohibitive for the individual to purchase the weapon. True reform will likely take years, if not decades, but there must be a strong counterbalance to the efforts of the NRA and other similar groups or the new Hummer will be the Abrams tank.

Our many freedoms that we enjoy in this nation must be accompanied with a measure of self discipline and responsible actions. We must acknowledge that our communities are currently not meeting the vast mental health needs of its citizens. It should not be easier to purchase a gun than it is to receive professional counseling because you are afraid of what you might do with a gun. Our school systems especially need to insure that they are doing everything they can to help our children cope with the difficult process of growing up in this crazy world.

Let's be clear these reforms represent minor restrictions. These reforms do not attempt to eliminate guns, but rather to keep the wrong person from purchasing a gun. We must also accept that this does little to keep a truly motivated person from possessing a gun. This is why our leaders in Washington, in our governors' mansions and in our city council buildings need to place a high priority on meeting the mental health needs of all of the members of their communities.

Will these common sense reforms stop these tragedies? No, not all, maybe not even most, but is there not value in stopping some.

My daughter is in kindergarten, so this story has touched my wife and I in perhaps a way that it otherwise would not have.

It is more than reasonable for us to expect that when our daughter goes to school, that she will come home.

I will certainly be hugging my children extra tight and extra long and I will be thinking of the ones who lost their lives and those who lost their loved ones in Connecticut.

If you are on the fence on this issue, I encourage you to go to a mirror and take a long hard look and ponder if common sense gun reforms are not necessary now. What is your community doing to help out individuals going through difficult and stressful times?

Start the conversation with yourself, but realize nothing gets done until we have the conversation together.

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