by Ray Fleming

AS he promised, President Obama has moved very quickly to respond to the killings at Newtown school. The measures he announced on Wednesday are a mix of the strengthening of existing or past legislation -- for instance by reintroducing the ban on assault weapons that was allowed to lapse in 2004 -- and of a range of restrictions on the purchase of guns and on those entitled to do so. Legislation of the kind needed would normally take months of cross-party consultation to prepare but the President is simply sending his own proposals to Congress and challenging Republicans and Democrats alike to pass them. It will not be easy but it is the right approach so that everyone will know who wants reform and who does not. Prominent among the latter, of course, is the National Rifle Association which lowered even its familiarly abysmal standards this week by a TV commercial calling the president “an elitist hypocrite” because his two children have security guards. “Are the president's kids more important than yours?” asked the commentary, calling for armed guards at every school in the country. Wisely, the President is not challenging the Constitutional “right to bear arms” but is instead interpreting it in line with contemporary experience -- for instance that 900 people have been killed by guns in America since the 27 children of Newtown lost their lives in September.

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