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Opinion: Gun Reform

The Buck Starts Here

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., it is clear that this nation needs to reform its gun laws now.

There are a number of other needs that the shooting highlighted.

We need to deal with mental illness in this country. We need to de-stigmatize mental health care and we need to treat mental illness as seriously as we treat medical issues that affect other parts of the body.

We, as parents, need to cut ties between the kids and first-person shooter video games like "Call of Duty" -- a game that the shooter played addictively. Video games like these dull the senses to the act of shooting another person and are of no entertainment value, except to those that find the idea of hunting human beings compelling.

The so-called video entertainment industry has its fair share of responsibility for the actions of the mass murderer.

But no single group can take more credit than the National Rifle Association for ensuring that a person who executed a room full of kindergartners had access to all the weapons that he needed.

The National Rifle Association has spent money lavishly and lobbied aggressively against every gun law ever proposed anywhere.

But their power is limited and it is dwindling. The new electoral majority, composed of young people, women and minorities are not the NRA's demographic. They are, as a group, more likely to favor sensible gun reform.

Reforms like waiting periods, background checks, banning military assault weapons and automatic weapons, banning large magazine clips and denying gun purchases to those who have restraining orders against them.

Let's face it. There is no reason that we license drivers and put vehicle identification numbers on cars but cannot do background checks and have waiting periods for people that want to buy guns or track guns by serial number.

Hopefully this Administration will take every available authority to reform gun laws through the strictest interpretations possible and will work with Congress on a policy by policy basis to pass reforms, rather than reach for one large piece of legislation. This is the kind of work that should be done piecemeal so every member of Congress will be able to record a yea or nay note on each reform.

Overall, Congress should fear the NRA less. They are effective in certain states and certain districts, but their power is on the decline.

The NRA's top political goal this year was the defeat of President Obama. But Obama easily won the Midwestern states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin that the NRA should have been able to affect. In fact, President Obama also won Virginia which is the home state of the NRA and a state they were particularly active -- and ineffective.

The NRA may be facing a bigger problem, from its membership. NRA members are moms and dads. No doubt these individuals realize that they financial support an institution that poses a growing threat to the safety of their kids.

About Bill Buck

Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.

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