practical suggestions, post-newtown

1.) Ban the sale and possession of large ammo clips. Part of the reason Newtown was Newtown is that the shooter didn’t have to stop to reload.

2.) Reinstitute the ban on ‘assault weapons.’ These weapons act in concert with large ammunition clips to cause maximum destruction.

3.) Close the ‘gun show’ loophole for background checks.

4.) Restore to police the discretion to issue concealed carry permits. According to the Brady Campaign To End Gun Violence, police in 35 states must issue concealed carry permits to most anyone who seeks one.

While it’s obviously true that increased gun control won’t stop every act of gun violence, or even every mass shooting, that’s not the point. The point is to reduce the chances of another Newtown happening, and – if it’s to happen – to improve the odds for the targets and the law enforcement officers called to the scene.

These things should be done immediately. The other thing that should happen is the restoration of federal funding for research into gun violence. The New York Times reported in 2011 that the N.R.A. had blocked research into basic questions in the field.

I side with people who interpret the second amendment to mean individuals have a right under the U.S. Constitution to own weapons, but plainly no right is absolute. I have no unfettered right to free speech, for instance. The courts and Congress have the authority to place limits on the right of weapons ownership. They can act in advance of bad acts because – unlike bad speech – you can’t even hope to undo what a gun does.

Also, someone made a good point yesterday about the old argument that guns don’t kill people, people do. The same thing is even more true of airplanes, yet when airplanes were used as weapons we moved very quickly to  limit access to them, even though it’s made life inconvenient for millions of people over the last decade.

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