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Obama's too cool on gun restrictions

While in Mexico, he reasoned it wouldn't be 'easy' to push an assault-weapons ban through Congress. That shouldn't stop him.

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President Obama is not flip-flopping on gun restrictions. He's not even flipping. But he is standing still, pointedly refusing to push ideas he supported as a candidate – reasonable ideas such as requiring criminal background checks on buyers at gun shows and reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons.

For instance, Mr. Obama said in Mexico yesterday that he has "not backed off at all from [his] belief that the ... assault-weapons ban made sense." Mexico is complaining bitterly about the flow of US weapons to its violent drug cartels and wants the US to bring back the 1994 ban, which Congress let expire in 2004.

That's not in the works, though. As the president pointed out, "none of us are under any illusion that reinstating that ban would be easy."

This is Obama the political realist speaking, calculating the unlikelihood that Congress, under the thumb of the National Rifle Association, will pass this or any other controversial gun restrictions.

But is "easy" the proper criterion? What about "necessary"?

This month's anniversaries of the mass killings at Virginia Tech and Columbine serve as a reminder that, while it's people who pull the trigger, it's easy access to guns that enables them. The urgent message continues in this year's spree of mass shootings – from Binghamton, N.Y,, to Oakland, Calif. – which have claimed at least 60 lives, including seven law enforcement officers.

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