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Death control: Congress must finally take aim at far too permissive federal gun laws


Disturbed from a long slumber by a few more mass shootings, Senate Republicans now deign to entertain a minor tweak or two to federal statutes that currently let just about any American get ahold of just about any firearm, including combat-caliber guns that can rapid-fire dozens of rounds of ammunition in the space of a minute.

Pardon us for being unimpressed. The exercise in which Mitch McConnell and fellow cowards appear set to engage, their NRA-installed electric-fence collars barely concealed under their pressed shirts, actually amounts to a depressing dramatization of how completely Congress remains under the thumb of the gun lobby.

Soon after the mass murders in El Paso and Dayton last month, President Trump expressed deepest condolences to the 32 dead, 61 injured and countless traumatized, then went through the now-familiar motions of murmuring that, yeah, sure, it might be time to pass a little law or two.

It’s roughly the same thing he said after the Las Vegas concert massacre (59 dead, 422 wounded) and Parkland high-school shooting (17 dead, 17 wounded): Background checks for all gun purchases might be a good idea.

Now, cowed by the National Rifle Association, the president and Republicans in Congress charge seem to have tabled even that most modest change, which nine in 10 Americans support. The sole measure likely to pass the Senate looks to be a red-flag law, which grants judges the power to order seizure of guns owned by violent or mentally unstable people.

Necessary. Painfully, woefully, comically insufficient.

Legislators with any sense and courage would ban assault rifles, the weapons of choice for mass killers, capable of shredding human flesh with uncommon ferocity and efficiency.

They would outlaw high-capacity magazines, which enable murderers and terrorists of all stripes to mow people down in bunches without even bothering to reload.

They would impose new restrictions on firearm possession by convicted domestic abusers.

And they would dream up new ways to reduce the easy availability of the deadliest weapons in a nation where they routinely fall into the hands of people eager to kill on street corners or in homes or in synagogues or in schools.

Don’t applaud members of Congress if they send a tiny gun safety measure to the president for his signature. Decry them for pretending to accomplish anything that matters.