You may know centrist political scientist Norman Ornstein from his books or frequent TV appearances.

He and Al Franken and their families used to attend Renaissance Weekend, where they developed a routine:

“I’m Norm,” Norm sang.

“I’m Al!” Al sang.

“Together” — they both sang — “we’re NormAl!”

It went downhill from there.

So I got to know them — I am a huge fan — and their terrific kids.

With that cheery setup, I offer this gut-punch from yesterday’s Times.

Ever since the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., law enforcement and other officials have been calling for changes in the Baker Act, a Florida law that allows involuntary commitment for 72 hours of people who are an imminent danger to themselves or others. If the Baker Act had been easier to deploy, they think, Nikolas Cruz, the accused shooter, would have been taken and treated before his horrible act. . . .

I know something about the Baker Act. About halfway through my son Matthew’s decade-long struggle with serious mental illness, my wife and I invoked the Baker Act against him.

This kind, brilliant, thoughtful young man, who experienced the sudden onset of mental illness at age 24, was living in a small condominium we owned near Sarasota, Fla. One day . . .

It’s a short, real-life horror story that could have happened to anyone.

I see zero downside in siding with Ronald Reagan and Antonin Scalia when it comes to keeping military-grade weapons out of civilian hands.*

Or in banning bump stocks or high-capacity magazines.

Or in imposing effective universal background checks.

Or in allowing states and municipalities the freedom to require proficiency tests and licensing, should they choose to, as they do with automobiles.

Or in appropriating more money, not less, to treat mental illness.

Where is the risk is any of that?  Where is the downside?

But as Norm makes heart-wrenchingly clear, other aspects of our response need to be carefully thought through.



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