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Public officials are very selective about when violence and death matter. Massacres and terrorist incidents cannot be ignored, but the day-to-day toll from gun violence is often swept aside. Politicians who tout themselves as advocates of law and order don't want to be unmasked as caring even more about their ratings from gun lobbyists.

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The heroic and inspiring role played by the families of the Sandy Hook massacre's victims should not be used to create what would be a dangerously misleading narrative about how they changed the politics of guns.

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The longer this drags out, the less likely anything will get done. That is why President Barack Obama's announcement of a commission, just four days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, was a harbinger of failure and inaction.

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Is Congress on the verge of turning away from the lessons of the slaughter in Newtown even as Connecticut enacts sweeping laws to curb gun violence? Is the gun lobby hell-bent on aligning our country with such great friends of liberty as Iran, North Korea and Syria by opposing efforts to condition international gun sales on the human rights records of buyers?

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It's hard for me to accept that the right to "keep and bear arms" extends to the kind of arsenal that Adam Lanza -- and his mother, Nancy, whom he also killed -- assembled and kept in their home.

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