More innocents, more gunfire, more pain

Los Angeles shooting: Congress remains stymied as yet another deranged person commits mayhem.

August 12, 1999

ANOTHER SEARING image. More innocents being led from a bloody crime scene. This time it was children at a Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles. Last time, it was office workers in Alabama. The time before that, stock traders in Atlanta.

This time -- just like last time and the time before that -- an unstable person had access to a powerful gun.

And you can regrettably predict what comes next: The gun lobby repeats that "guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Nonsense. You can draw a straight line in logic from the proliferation of guns in this country to the rising tide of senseless violence. It's not the only problem, but it's a big one.

Unfortunately, very little seems to change. Congress, if it dares budge to curtail the malignant spread of weapons, ultimately retreats. Talk radio becomes constipated with superficial blather about the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms, but never answers one simple question: If all these guns in circulation are to protect law-abiding folks, why are so many innocents dying?

We've got to do better -- both in our search for explanations, and in our actions regarding guns.

More is becoming known about the apparent suspect in Tuesday's mayhem, which included the murder of a postal worker prior to the JCC attack. Buford O'Neal Furrow, 37, surrendered yesterday in Las Vegas. He had a connection to a white supremacist group in Washington state. He had psychiatric problems and a criminal past. But he obviously had no problem getting his hands on a 9mm Uzi. What sense does that make?

The governor of Maryland, with his "smart gun" proposal, has made the issue central to his next legislative agenda, as he should.

Congress must do likewise. It cannot sit cowed and immobile while more innocent children and adults are led from shot-up schools and workplaces and community centers. The longer Congress freezes, the more it ensures this will happen again.

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