WHAT WILL IT take? What will it take for a majority of Americans to speak out for a sensible firearms policy in our nation?
It will take more than a congresswoman being shot pointblank in the face as she gathers for a town meeting in Arizona.
It will take more than a deranged gunman with a hundred-round magazine spraying bullets into a crowded movie theater in Colorado.
It will take more than the kids who die playing with guns carelessly stored.
It will take more than killings on the university campuses in Illinois, Texas and Virginia.
It will take more than the shootings on streets in Chicago, East St. Louis and cities across the country.
And it will take more than 26 victims, including 20 children, in a Connecticut grade school.
What it will take is for the majority of Americans, and the majority of thoughtful gun owners and hunters, to agree that there must be reasonable limits on gun ownership and weapons.
The U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that our Second Amendment rights are not absolute. So can we come together and agree that Americans have a right to own and use firearms for sport and selfdefense within certain limits?
We must institute reasonable, common-sense limits, such as barring those with a history of mental instability, those with a history of violent crime or adjudged dangerous and subject to restraining orders, and those whose names have been placed on a terrorist watch list from owning weapons.
And those straw purchasers who are literally fencing for drug gangs as well as the gun dealers who look the other way must be dealt with firmly.
Certain classes of weapons that are strictly military and have no useful purpose in sport, hunting or selfdefense should not be legally sold.
Magazine clips with more than 10 rounds should be prohibited from civilian use. No one should be allowed to purchase more than two firearms a month. And those who own firearms that are within the reach of children should have protective locks on their weapons.
What holds us back are political organizations that are well-funded, wellorganized and determined to resist even reasonable limitations. There is a close political parallel between the gridlock in Washington on dealing with our economy and national debt and the eerie silence in Congress as the list of horrific gun crimes grows by the day.
Too many of my colleagues just shrug their shoulders when gun issues come to the floor for a vote. They have made Grover Norquist-like pledges and feel dutybound to vote right on every score card issue.
My wife and I grew up in families of hunters. We know the rite of passage when a father can take his son or daughter out hunting. I know the fun of watching the sun come up on a duck blind and hearing a hunter calling them in over the water.
The hunters I know are good people who love the sport and hate the people who use firearms to terrorize and kill. We need for these hunters to join with many Americans who have never owned or used a firearm and call for a reasonable standard for gun use and ownership.
Until we do, the number of victims of gun tragedies will continue to grow and the silence of their funerals will be matched by the silence of those who have the power to change it.
Dick Durbin, U.S. senator from Illinois, wrote this for the Chicago Tribune.