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Since the massacre that was supposed to have changed the national debate over gun control, more state laws have been enacted that loosen gun restrictions than restrict them. So the lesson from Sandy Hook is that we need to change our name to the Insane States of America.

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In case you missed it, a smattering of conspiracy theories about last month's shooting in Newtown, Conn., has been making the rounds on the Internet. One claims the massacre never happened, while another states it was a plot by the government and the media in order to take people's guns away.

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Recent mass shootings have rightly sparked a national debate about gun control. Unfortunately, like so many political debates, this one has been loud, divisive and lacking in substantive analysis or reasoned compromise.Recent shootings have rightly sparked a debate about gun control. Unfortunately, it's been loud, divisive and lacking in substantive analysis or reasoned compromise.

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We must act forcefully to contain gun violence, and that is a political matter. But a year that ended on notes of heroism in response to natural disaster and endurance in response to human horror brings to mind George H.W. Bush's challenge: We need to become "a kinder, gentler nation." That seems a worthy resolution for 2013.

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While the final funerals for the victims of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre have been held, gun violence continues apace, most notably with the Christmas Eve murder of two volunteer firefighters in rural Webster, N.Y., at the hands of an ex-convict who was armed, as was the Newtown shooter Adam Lanza, with a Bushmaster .223 caliber AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.

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