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Editorial: Act now vs. gun violence

Illinois Gov. PQuinn

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn

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Updated: January 20, 2013 6:19AM

We can’t wait another day to tackle the evils of gun violence in America.

The school shooting tragedy in Connecticut has opened many eyes to the potential for countless tragedies as long as America remains awash in easily obtainable guns.

In Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy on Monday renewed calls to ban the sale and possession of semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Also on Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for a “vote of conscience” on an assault weapons ban. And McCarthy urged Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to appeal a recent federal court decision to toss out Illinois’ ban on carrying concealed guns, saying “just because 49 states did it doesn’t make it right.”

Those are important steps that not only would make Illinois safer but also would help refocus debate on the national level. Effective national laws are needed because firearms are easy to transport across state lines.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) plans to introduce a ban on assault weapons when the new Congress convenes next year. She helped usher in a similar ban in 1994 that stayed in effect for 10 years. Feinstein would ban the sale of about 100 types of automatic weapons and ammunition clips that contain more than 10 bullets.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is calling for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as a stronger national background-check system and tougher penalties on “straw buyers” who purchase guns for people not legally able to buy firearms themselves.

The United States has the highest civilian gun ownership rate in the world, and under the theory of some pro-gun organizations, that should make us the safest country. That isn’t how it’s worked out. Gun violence is so rife it’s been called “the American disease.”

Earlier efforts to rein in gun violence have sputtered. We can’t afford to let that happen this time.

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