Visiting York County Tuesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said now is not the time to talk about stricter gun control.

With all due respect to the former prosecutor and state attorney general -- if not now, when?

The country needs to take some time and get through the funerals, Corbett said.

It's an all-too familiar argument.

Critics regularly accuse gun control advocates of exploiting massacres like Friday's in Newtown, Conn., for political gains, a specious claim if for no other reason than how often it's made.

In 2012 alone, according to various news services:

---A gunman killed two people Dec. 11 at a shopping mall near Portland, Ore.

---Five people were shot to death and three were wounded in September at a company in Minneapolis.

---Six members were killed and four injured in August at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

---Twelve people were gunned down and 58 wounded in July at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

---Five people were killed at a Seattle café in May.

---Seven people were killed April at a Christian college in Oakland, Calif.

It seems we're always waiting for one grieving process or another to end, constantly avoiding "knee-jerk" reactions to tragedies.

We're beyond that now.


That, Gov. Corbett, is precisely because a Connecticut town is burying 20 6- and 7-year-olds and the six educators who tried to protect them from a deranged gunman -- a gunman who stormed their elementary school armed with an assault rifle and ammunition specifically designed to inflict the maximum damage to human flesh.

Now is the time.

We can't wait for emotions to subside, which could be a very, very long wait indeed.

Many people, even staunch Second Amendment advocates, understand this tragedy is different, a new low in our history.

Maybe there is nothing that could have prevented the massacre of first- and second-graders by someone who appears to have had mental issues. But not doing anything to try to prevent another one is unacceptable.

A start would be a discussion that seeks common ground, an agreement that protects our constitutional right to bear arms while acknowledging the need for commonsense limits.

As we've noted here before, some gun rights advocates have said banning assault rifles is a slippery slope that would lead to an outright ban on firearms. But under President Bill Clinton, the sale of such weapons -- the sole purpose of which is more efficient killing -- was banned, although that law expired in 2004.

We survived, and no government agents went door to door collecting guns.

One consensus between Democrats and Republicans is already building in the wake of the Connecticut shootings, The Wall Street Journal noted Wednesday: Limiting access to firearms by the mentally ill.

That, in fact, was one area of gun control Corbett was willing to address during his York County visit.

"This brings to the surface the (conversation) on mental health issues, but not only how we treat, but how we spot. How do you spot someone like this? That's going to be the greatest challenge," he said.

That's a bit ironic, considering there is a state law requiring Pennsylvania to share mental health records of potential gun buyers with other states through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Yet since 2008, when the Legislature passed the law requiring the state to participate, not one record has been submitted to the database by the Pennsylvania State Police.

That means a Pennsylvania resident barred from owning a firearm because of an involuntary commitment to a mental institution still can make a gun purchase in another state, since his or her name wouldn't show up in the federal database during the required background check.

The state police department has the information, but it continues to blame "technical and legal issues" for its lack of participation.

It seems that's something Corbett could get straightened out.

But to do so, he needs to join in a meaningful conversation, even now as parents are laying their children to rest.

It's a fitting way to honor the victims and their families.