Talking Points

Neither side of the gun debate will budge. Now what?

It is by now a maddeningly familiar cycle. First comes horror and disgust as schoolchildren are murdered. It's followed by political polemics and grandstanding. Then, finally, a sense of fatigue and futility

The unstoppable force of out-of-control violence bumps into the immovable object that is America's entrenched gun culture, Second Amendment rights, and widespread private firearms ownership. Wishing away even the last of these, as those emulating the gun laws of other countries often do, makes the urgent calls to action harder to discern from the "thoughts and prayers" sentiments gun controllers increasingly find so irrelevant

That doesn't make the calls to action any less understandable. A civilized society does not permit children to be gunned down in their classrooms. But neither do we want them to poison their bodies with drugs. That fact has not made the war on drugs any more successful.

The prevalence of guns and their political salience to overwhelmingly law-abiding gun owners explain the intractability of this issue more than a gun lobby that, at an institutional level, has never been weaker. There may be half-measures on guns that could help, as well as other policies aimed at problems ranging from school security to mental health help, if there is a serious desire for solutions rather than simply a dodge. A debate on revised age requirements and improving the background checks system seems inevitable.

But a general, and often exaggerated, sense that guns are too easy to obtain combined with a revulsion at their lethality is not enough. Though Second Amendment advocates have their work to do, too. The problem of violence, both chronically in places like Chicago and episodically in places like Uvalde, Texas, is real and hits home like few other things. However debatable the proposed solutions, it is a problem that there will be an attempt to solve on someone's terms at some point.

In the meantime, except things to get uglier before they get better.