Editorial: Congress should finally ban sale of assault weapons

Another day, another mass shooting in America. And as callous as that sounds, it could have been worse given the weapon used.

At least 59 people are dead and more than 500 wounded in Las Vegas after 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire from a 32nd-story window of the Mandalay Bay Casino Sunday night on a crowd of more than 22,000 people gathered for a country music festival.

It’s already being widely described as the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. But it has only been slightly more than a year since the last worst-ever mass shooting, at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where a gunman killed 49.

RELATED: Las Vegas shooting: At least 59 dead, live updates

And just as followed the horrific shootings of gay and Latino nightclub-goers in Orlando; schoolchildren in Newton, Conn.; and congressmen in Alexandria, Va., the gun lobby and their cronies in Congress are intoning not to “politicize” the incident.

Well, if not now, when?

Although there is still an enormous amount we don’t know about Paddock and his state of mind, we do know that once again, a high-powered assault-style weapon was used to cause great carnage. Worse, this was not the semiautomatic weapon of previous mass shooters. This was an automatic rifle, which allowed Paddock to sit from his cowardly perch 400 yards away and rain down up to 90 rounds in 90 seconds during his roughly 10-minute assault.

Paddock, believed to have taken his own life, had 23 guns in his hotel room and 19 more in his home.

RELATED: ‘We’re dumbstruck,’ brother of suspected Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock speaks out

A somber President Donald J. Trump spoke appropriately in expressing “sadness, shock and grief.” He dubbed the shooting an act of “pure evil” and praised the speed of the response by police and first responders as “miraculous.” His appeals to unity and the “ties of community” were aptly chosen and soberly delivered.

Also appropriate, however, is the statement by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.: “This must stop. It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic. There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.”

We agree. As we’ve said before, there is simply no place in civil society for military-style weapons.

We shouldn’t allow this discussion to become another maddening, nonproductive political argument.

Trump, in his statement Monday, mentioned “praying” or “prayer” five times with regard to helping the nation cope with this latest gun-related tragedy.

That sentiment should also apply to banning the sale of assault weapons.

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