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Saturday, December 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 30.0° F  Light Snow
The Daily
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Citizen Dave: The Week in Review, and the lessons of Sandy Hook
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There is no other news this week worth spending any time on beyond the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. It snowed a lot. The Badgers have a new football coach. The fiscal cliff still looms. The Mayans were wrong.

But what dominates our thoughts are the faces of those twenty little kids and those six brave teachers, the latest victims of another madman armed to the teeth.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen are serving the predictable Republican message -- the issue is "complex," but it's mostly about mental health.

That's garbage.

President Obama and the Assembly Democrats seem focused on the right answers. They're talking about legislation that would actually make a difference, most notably a ban on high capacity clips and on certain kinds of ammunition.

But we need to stay focused. Here are the pitfalls to be avoided.

First, this is not about mental health. Yes, we should be concerned about inadequate resources for those in need of them, but to allow the focus to drift into this discussion will take it off of guns, which is where our attention belongs. The truth is that no matter what we do, we will have people in our society who are not mentally well. The problem is that they have easy access to incredibly efficient deadly force that should not be available to anyone, mentally sound or not.

Second, while tougher registration laws would be a good thing, they won't solve the problem. The Sandy Hook shooter used guns that were legally registered to his mother. Stop and think about this for a moment. If I'm hunting ducks on the Mississippi River and my gun contains more than three shells, that gun will be confiscated by a warden on the spot, even if there aren't any ducks around. The Connecticut shooter did not violate a single law when he borrowed his mother's weapons and left the house with a military style gun and a canister holding 100 rounds.

Third, arming teachers is just insane. The fact that the governor of my state said that it's something we shouldn't rule out is a national embarrassment. The answer to gun violence is not more guns anymore than the answer to alcoholism is to have another drink or the answer to obesity is to eat more doughnuts.

The answer we need to focus on is reducing the number of guns and the amount of ammunition for those guns everywhere in society. And, yes, that means among "law-abiding citizens" as well. The Sandy Hook shooter's mother was, after all, a law-abiding citizen who did everything right under the law. The problem is that she should never have been allowed to purchase those semi-automatic rifles and handguns at all. They should be illegal.

Some of my friends have told me they fear that as time passes, the issue will fade as it always does, and nothing much will happen. But that's not what I fear. I'm afraid it won't fade because it's only a matter of time before the next act of mass gun violence.

Under the circumstances, have the best weekend you can.

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