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Session on guns can wait a bit

Summer vacation has its merits -- even when preparing for a legislative special session regarding school violence and gun-related issues.

Democrats are peeved that Gov. Mike Leavitt will wait until September to call the Legislature together to deal with hot-button topics that the GOP in Utah has heretofore ducked. Recent school shootings and attacks at the Triad Center and the LDS Church Family History Library have created a public outcry for solutions that cannot be ignored.But it doesn't hurt to let cooler heads prevail -- as long as the subject is not conveniently "forgotten." Given the current climate, there is little chance of that.

Waiting until fall allows two work groups established by Leavitt to do some meaningful preparation prior to a special session. The last thing anyone needs is a hasty assemblage marked by philosophical rantings about the Second Amendment and lack of meaningful action to solve pressing problems.

The five topics outlined for consideration between now and then include school safety; guns on private property; guns in churches; crimes committed with firearms, including misdemeanor weapons violations and gun buyers; and guns and the mentally ill.

There are no simple solutions to any of these. Each must be dealt with thoughtfully and responsibly to restore confidence in public safety shattered by recent shootings in schools and other public places. Unsettling incidents include, of course, tragic attacks at the Triad Center and LDS Family History Library. Recent events have shown it is too easy for those convicted of violent misdemeanors -- some while suffering from mental illness -- to legally obtain firearms.

While a special session is prudent, expectations should be reasonable. Legislating guns out of the hands of unsavory characters is not easy nor automatic. Lawbreakers are not apt to be deterred by more laws.

Yet there are places where firearms have no place, including churches, schools, hospitals and centers for the mentally ill. Increased security costs may come with such prohibitions, however, as trained personnel are hired to provide adequate protection for the innocent.

There are myriad considerations that go into providing meaningful solutions to complex problems. The important thing at this stage is that lawmakers do something. A special session in September -- with proper preparation now -- is a good place to begin.