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The best present: gun control

Updated: January 25, 2013 6:10AM

The empty stockings hang over the fireplace. Santa’s sleigh bells are silent. The Hanukkah candles have gone dark. Twenty little innocents are gone. They will never again squeal in delight at the toys and treats from Santa’s sack.

There will be no Christmas for 20 dead children and six courageous adults of Newtown, Conn. But we can give a gun-addled America the gift of life.

By 2015, the number of firearm fatalities will likely outstrip traffic deaths for the first time ever, according to “Shooting deaths in 2015 will probably rise to almost 33,000, and those related to autos will decline to about 32,000, based on the 10-year average trend,” the news service reported last week.

This Christmas Eve, President Barack Obama can deliver the only shiny bauble that matters: effective and lasting gun control.

Better late than never. In 2008, presidential candidate Obama pledged to revive the federal ban on assault weapons, which expired in 2004. Since then, he has been missing in action. Even after the massacre of 12 people in an Aurora, Colo., movie theatre. Even as dozens of schoolchildren perish from gun violence on the streets of Chicago, Obama’s beloved city.

During the 2012 campaign, he avoided confrontations on gun control. When Obama was asked about gun control at a presidential debate, he punted. He was terrified of the People of the Gun, particularly in election swing states like Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Now 20 more babies are dead, and Obama’s got religion. The time is ripe for real reforms.

The People of the Gun are on the ropes. The clout of the National Rifle Association is waning.

The president is saying all the right things. He has dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to lead an examination of options to address gun violence and mental health issues. The White House announced gun control would be a focal point of next month’s State of the Union.

By last Friday, more than 200,000 signatures had been posted on a White House website. The petition demands that Congress pass tough gun-control legislation.

Obama responded in a video statement. “I will do everything in my power as president to advance these efforts because if there’s even one thing we can do as a country to protect our children, we have a responsibility to try,” he promised.

Obama now argues that Congress must enact “common-sense legislation,” that would ban “the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips,” and make “sure criminals can’t take advantage of legal loopholes to get their hands on a gun.”

Obama can do more. He can issue executive orders that will bypass the congressional sausage makers. He can deploy his White House bully pulpit to back similar state and local efforts.

If we don’t take action for the little angels of Sandy Hook, now, America will be forever haunted by the demons of gun violence.

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