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After the Arizona shooting: coming together for gun control

As President Obama and others try to unite the nation after the Arizona shooting, the country needs to come together for sensible restrictions on guns. A new film by a survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre may help.

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As President Obama and other leaders try to pull the nation together in the aftermath of the Arizona shooting, Americans can also try to draw closer on a highly divisive issue related to the rampage: lack of gun controls in the United States.

Debate on this topic has long been polarized. And after every recent massacre by someone who should not have had a gun, little changes in the nation’s gun laws.

The gun lobby paints those who support reasonable gun restrictions as simply “antigun,” a posse come to take away constitutionally protected firearms. No significant national gun-control legislation has passed since 1994, when both the background check and assault-weapons ban went into effect.

Since then, the gun lobby has had the upper hand. The assault-weapons ban has been allowed to expire. Nationwide, guns are allowed in new places – on Amtrak trains and in national parks.

Meanwhile, the gun-control group is on the defensive. They’re fighting to preserve the status quo and to prevent new inroads by the gun lobby – for instance, bringing concealed weapons to college campuses (as proposed in Arizona), taverns, and workplaces.

If the nation wants to reduce gun violence (about 30,000 people are killed per year by guns), it has to find a way over the gun-debate chasm that separates the more regulatory-friendly coasts from the vast middle of America, and the cities from rural areas.

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