The spark of outrage may at last be overtaking the feeling of helplessness.

Congressman Ron Barber, who represents District 2 in Southern Arizona, is painfully familiar with gun violence. He was almost killed Jan. 8, 2011, when a gunman opened fire in front of a Tucson Safeway, murdering six people and physically injuring 13 more.

Barber said Monday as he returned to Washington that he will push for legislation that bans extended-capacity magazines and high-powered assault weapons, the tools that allow mass murderers to shoot large numbers of people in seconds.

"I hope we can work across the aisle," Barber said. But if not, "I think we have to proceed regardless. The time for talk is over. We have to act."

Assault weapons will not keep us safe. Guns do not provide protection from the effects of unchecked serious mental illness. Extended-capacity magazines do not provide the means to recognize the person who is a danger to himself and others before he opens fire.

Nancy Lanza was a gun collector. She talked about her guns, made them a family activity and taught her sons to shoot. She had guns to protect herself.

Her son shot her in the head on Friday. Her guns did not protect her. He took her semiautomatic weapons and used them to murder 20 children and six women at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It is time to turn the question from when will we change to how will we change.

Guns have politicians speaking for them in Washington. Guns have advocates who help people convicted of violent crimes, and people adjudicated as mentally ill, regain their gun rights.

Pro-gun organizations and supporters cloak themselves in the mantle of "freedom." Politicians are pro-freedom and pro-gun, or anti-freedom and anti-gun.

They are flat wrong. But speaking that truth does not change the political power they, and those who think like them, wield.

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights do not belong only to those who make possessing high-powered, high-capacity guns their cause above all else.

The Second Amendment is not the sole purview of people who believe that the measure of freedom is fulfilling their personal desire to own the most lethal, most powerful guns possible.

A cause like the pro-gun lobby, even with millions and millions of dollars behind it, succeeds in pressuring politicians only if we, their constituents who believe differently, allow them to go unanswered.

We must claim our stake in public safety. Those who own guns, but see that extended-capacity magazines and high-powerered assault weapons do not keep us more safe, we need you.

We ask those who own guns for self-protection or sport, but who see that background checks offer a degree of public safety, to add your voice.

Gun advocates who fight for the broadest access to the most lethal weapons do not represent all gun owners. These organizations should not be allowed to speak for everyone who owns a gun.

And they must not be allowed to drown out those who choose not to own guns.

If the gun lobby does not speak for you, claim your voice.

Dislodging these strident groups and their politicians from their station as the voice of the American gun owner will take action. It will take persistence and faith.

Yet we have no choice but to do every thing each of us can to make our communities, our schools, our movie theaters, our college campuses, our shopping malls, our public sidewalks, our restaurants, our hospitals, our beauty shops - our own tiny worlds - more safe.

Each action counts. Each remembrance, each moment of resolve.

In that spirit, we share this from the Star's cartoonist and columnist David Fitzsimmons:

Instead of quarreling, light a candle. On this Friday, one week from the day of the massacre, in loving remembrance of the children of Newtown, and in memory of all of the beautiful lights among us that have been extinguished by gun violence this year and in years past, in an expression of national outrage at our nation's inability to engage in meaningful, constructive action, let us do something small and simple.

In an expressions of grief over what has become of us, in a clear expression of our solidarity with those who favor sane and reasonable gun laws and with those who favor full support for mental health care, we will darken our holiday lights for one hour at sunset.

In that quiet darkness, we will light a candle, pray for the dead, and pray our nation's leaders will see the light.

Please join us.

Arizona Daily Star