Will The Dark Knight Rises shooting change the gun-control debate?

The tragedy, like others before it, has reignited an old argument. Could the massacre reshape attitudes toward America's gun laws?

A SWAT team officer stands outside the Aurora, Colo., apartment building where James Holmes, the alleged gunman, was living.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

Like many high-profile shootings, the massacre at an early Friday screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colo., inspired first shock, then sympathy for the victims, and then a tense debate about what the tragedy says about America's gun laws. Other high-profile attacks in recent years — from Columbine to Virginia Tech to the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in Tucson last year — have sparked calls for tighter restrictions on the sale and use of firearms. In the Dark Knight shooting, police seized four guns when they arrested the alleged gunman, James Holmes, in the theater's parking lot. One was an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle (with a magazine that could contain more than 100 bullets), a weapon that might have been covered under a now-expired assault rifle ban. Lately, the trend has been toward loosening gun laws, following a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that individuals have a constitutional right to arm themselves. Will the Aurora shooting change the debate?

Let's hope so: The commentators who "serve as the Miss Manners of the political world" insist it's crass to talk policy in the wake of such a tragedy, says Amy Sullivan at The New Republic. Nonsense. Now—when the price we pay for allowing so many guns on the street is so plain to see—is the perfect time "to talk about ways that we might make such incidents less likely or at least less deadly."

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