Guns: Would tougher laws have prevented a massacre?

Since Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were gunned down in 1968, more than a million Americans have died of gunshots, in crimes, accidents, and suicides.

We still don’t know what was in Jared Lee Loughner’s mind during last weekend’s bloodbath in Arizona, said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post, but we know what was in his hand: a Glock 9 mm semiautomatic pistol, with a 31-round clip. Loughner was able to buy that “sleek, efficient killing machine” only because of “our nation’s insane refusal to impose reasonable controls on guns.” Someone as clearly deranged as Loughner should never have been allowed to buy a gun, said The New York Times in an editorial, and had Congress not allowed President Clinton’s Assault Weapons Ban to expire in 2004, he could not have bought the extended magazine that let him get off so many shots, so quickly, before brave bystanders tackled him as he reloaded. High-capacity clips have “absolutely no legitimate purpose outside of military or law-enforcement use” and should be banned again, immediately.

“No amount of gun control will stop people like Loughner getting guns,” said Erich Pratt in USA Today. Legal restrictions only serve to put the citizens who obey laws at the mercy of those who don’t. The most effective response to crimes like this is for more people to take up arms, so that when the next madman starts shooting, a citizen has the firepower to stop him. Even with the Assault Weapons Ban in place, said Kevin D. Williamson in National Review Online, Loughner could easily have bought a secondhand, 31-round clip. Or, failing that, he simply could have brought three guns, “or a pipe bomb, or a truck full of fertilizer.” Killers, history has shown, will always find a way to kill.

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