The slaughter in Tucson has reawakened the national debate about gun laws. It's long past time for that.
The deranged 22-year old who allegedly killed six and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was easily able to purchase a semiautomatic pistol and a high-capacity magazine that allowed him to fire off 30 bullets without reloading.
A law that banned that type of military-style assault weapon expired in 2004 and has not been renewed. The powerful gun lobby led by the National Rifle Association has spearheaded the opposition.
The NRA also opposes President Barack Obama's nomination of Andrew Traver as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. A 23-year veteran of the agency, Traver has led efforts to keep assault-type weapons out of the hands of gang members in Chicago.
He's run afoul of the NRA because in an appearance on a Chicago TV news program he demonstrated the lethality of an AK-47 without making it clear, the NRA claims, that such "fully automatic firearms are not available through normal retail channels."
Further proof of Traver's hostility to the Second Amendment, the NRA claims, includes his service as an adviser to the Gun Violence Reduction Project on behalf of the International Association for Chiefs of Police. For rabid gun-rights advocates, the police chiefs association is an enemy.
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