In the wake of tragedy: Gun control debated after Sandy Hook school shooting
"So far, too many newly vocal reformers are operating under the conceit that if only American 'finally' had a conversation about gun violence, everyone would immediately see the wisdom of the position reformers have advocated all along," Friedersdorf wrote. "One need only to reflect on the state of public opinion after decades of debating the issue to conclude that the conversational outcome many reformers presume isn't at all certain."
In terms of gun control specifics, Jeffrey Goldberg suggested making it more difficult for the criminally minded, the dangerously mentally ill and the suicidal to buy guns and ammunition. He also suggested closing the gun show loophole, installing longer waiting periods, encouraging or mandating mental health professionals to report patients they think shouldn't own guns to the background check system and restricting drum-style magazines.
"Conservative gun-rights advocates should acknowledge that if more states had stringent universal background checks — or if a federal law put these in place — more guns would be kept out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally unstable. They should also acknowledge that requiring background checks on buyers at gun shows would not represent a threat to the Constitution," Goldberg wrote. "Anti-gun advocates, meanwhile, should acknowledge that gun control legislation is not the only answer to gun violence. Responsible gun ownership is also an answer. An enormous number of Americans believe this to be the case, and gun control advocates do themselves no favors when they demonize gun owners, and advocates of armed self-defense, as backwoods barbarians."
A gun control law that would actually work should focus on magazine capacity in pistols, Robert Wright argued Monday, rather than the assault weapons "red herring," which is ineffective due to the lack of a clear and simple definition of an assault weapon and "incoherent regulation."
Although Wright's proposal — to make it illegal to sell or posses a firearm that can hold more than six bullets — would "make lots of current guns illegal" and would face strong resistance, he suggested that it provides a real answer to the dilemma of reducing the scale of mass killings while preserving the right of Americans to use firearms for legitimate purposes.
Newsweek's Megan McArdle wrote that while changes made to current gun laws may help cut down on gun crimes, the steps necessary to absolutely prevent a copycat school shooting tragedy are "impractical and unconstitutional."
"As soon as Newtown happened, people reached into a mental basket already full of 'ways to stop school shootings' and pulled out a few of their favorite items. They did not stop to find out whether those causes had actually obtained in this case," McArdle said. "It is easy and satisfying to be for 'gun control' in the aspect, but we cannot pass gun control in the abstract."
While McArdle said she is in favor of "reasonable gun control" that in some ways goes farther than current rules, generic solutions like a ban on extended-capacity magazines and required background checks for private sales would not have stopped Newtown.
The extreme solutions on the table would be preventing the media from mentioning the names of the killers in order to prevent copycats, institutionalizing more of the mentally ill or banning all guns in private hands, McArdle said, but these solutions are all "so wildly unconstitutional as to be hardly worth discussing."
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