The unimaginable horror of Sandy Hook jumpstarts another "national conversation" about firearm violence. President Barack Obama, promising "meaningful action," said: "We will have to change. ... We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end."
Let's examine four of the "commonsense" measures frequently proposed by "gun control advocates":
One, closing the "gun show loophole." What gun show loophole? Restricted from selling at guns shows prior to 1986, a licensed dealer today requires a background check whether he sells guns at a store, a gun show or the back of his SUV.
Two, banning "high-capacity" magazines. One of the firearms used by Adam Lanza was a Bushmaster .223, with a magazine that can carry as many as 30 rounds. Would there have been less carnage had he been limited to a firearm with low-capacity magazines? What is the appropriate amount of firepower? Clips with 10 rounds? Five rounds? If the idea is to reduce the lethality of the guns, what does this do to reduce the lethality of the shooter's intent?
The deadliest school massacre on American soil appears to have occurred in Chicago in 1958. A student set fire to the school, killing 92 students and three nuns. And in 1927, in Michigan, a former member of the school board set bombs at three schools, killing 45 (mostly second- to sixth-graders), including the bomber.
The Columbine tragedy could have been worse. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold set bombs throughout the school, but only one partially detonated, doing little damage. But had the bombs gone off as intended, hundreds could have been killed.
Three, reinstating the so-called "assault weapons" ban. An "assault rifle" is one where puling the trigger unleashes a volley of bullets, like a Tommy gun or AK-47. Since 1934, these firearms require licensing and registration. And in 1986, these weapons were banned from civilian sale. These laws remain in effect. The "assault weapons" ban did not restrict fully automatic weapons. Again, they were already under strict guidelines.
What exactly did this ban do? It outlawed certain weapons based on cosmetic features, many of which have nothing to do with the firepower or lethality. For example, the ban defined as an "assault weapon" a firearm with three or more of the following features: a folding or telescoping stock; a pistol grip; a bayonet mount; a flash suppressor; a muzzle capable of launching a grenade; and a magazine capacity over 10 rounds. It outlawed the manufacturing of 18 specific models of semi-automatic weapons.