The time for gun control legislation in the U.S. is now. The Obama administration is poised to do good by the American people by making assault weapons illegal and taking them out of the hands of individuals. If Obama does not do this, with or without the cooperation of Congress, it will be the single biggest failure of his administration. And the next time there is a mass shooting at a mall or a school or a movie theatre or a restaurant, we will remember that there was a time when the government could have passed legislation to prevent such shootings, and didn’t.

Because Sandy Hook will happen again. And again. And it will keep on happening as long as we turn a blind eye to the fact that our gun control laws are totally out of whack. There have been 58 school and mass shootings in the United States since 1996. What makes us think the Newtown tragedy will be the last?

Many gun owners like to say the government wants to take away their freedom. They say guns don’t kill people, people kill people. That’s true. But what they don’t say is that the people who kill people kill them with automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons that are not intended for anything else other than mass killing. Who needs an Uzi submachine gun with a 25 round clip for hunting, sport or self-defense? No one.

Mass killings are always the same: a lone gunman walks into a populated place, a mall, a school, a movie theater and opens fire with high-tech assault weapons that seem right out of a Terminator movie. And then we learn the murderer was a troubled young man, someone who had been bullied or was mentally disturbed. Perpetrators of these horrible killings do not usually have criminal backgrounds. They are not the drug dealers or common criminals the pro-gun lobby say will be the only ones with weapons if we pass gun control legislation.

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In order to avoid future mass killings, the government needs to invest in taking care of people who are mentally ill, and pass an assault weapons ban like the one that expired in 2004. Democrats and Republicans need to come together on this issue and do the right thing. Partisanship and the NRA have no place in this discussion. Reasonable gun control legislation, and health services for Americans who suffer from mental illness are paramount to our future as a nation.

No one wants to take guns away from hunters and sportsmen, but assault weapons have no place in the hands of the average citizen. What are assault weapons for? And why does anybody need one?

If the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary hadn’t had easy access to the type of weapon he used, the tragedy could have been averted, or at least slowed enough to save many lives. If he had walked in with a revolver it would have been impossible for him to get away with killing 26 children and adults in such a short time.

If the government cannot pass a comprehensive or total ban on assault weapons, and put in place a series of safety nets to care for our mentally ill, can we really look at ourselves in the mirror and say we are proud to be Americans?

Because really, we are becoming our own worst enemies.