Such laws are always a balance. In this case, the gain in public safety would be relatively small — restricting access to a destructive technology used by killers at Aurora, Tucson, Fort Hood and Virginia Tech. But the burden on gun rights would be minimal. Defenders of high-capacity magazines argue they are more convenient at the gun range, since you can fill up a large magazine before leaving home. There is a constitutional difference between the argument "I need to defend myself from aggression" and "I'd prefer to reload less at the range."
I am open to the idea that other measures — particularly improving the capacity of the mental health system to identify people with emotional problems — should have a higher national priority. Reasonable gun laws are not a panacea. But neither are they a threat to the Constitution. They merit a debate — not driven by ideology, but by prudential judgments on public safety.
Michael Gerson's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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