The Bushmaster .223 was not one of the outlawed weapons.
The ban, enacted in 1994, expired 10 years later. What has been the result? Nothing. Crime was unaffected. The reason is simple. Assault-style rifles (the kind banned by the law) are rarely used in crime. Less than 1 percent of weapons used in crimes are fully automatic rifles (illegal to buy for nearly 30 years). An estimated 1 to 2 percent of firearms used in crime are assault-style rifles, like the one used in Newtown.
Four, requiring a mental health test to prevent the "mentally ill" from purchasing a firearm. The goal is to predict who will use a firearm in an unlawful way. But how to define mental illness? Is it depression? Abraham Lincoln supposedly suffered from depression or melancholia. Would the 16th president be denied the right to purchase a firearm? Do you forbid someone from purchasing a firearm if he or she is in therapy? Should a psychiatrist be required to inform the police when a client expresses anger, hatred or feelings of revenge?
Apart from the Second Amendment, how many other amendments to the Constitution will have been violated by denying someone the right to purchase a firearm because he is predicted to use the gun illegally -- based on a psych test.
So what can be done?
We can harden the target to make it more likely that the shooter will encounter resistance. We can re-examine the soundness of "gun-free" zones like schools and malls. By law and policy, these are places where bad guys know there are no guns.
Rampage school shootings in Pearl, Miss., Edinboro, Pa., and in Grundy, Va., have been stopped or minimized by citizens with legal weapons. More recently, it appears that a concealed-carry weapon (CCW) holder minimized the damage that a shooter sought to inflict at the Clackamas Mall near Portland, Ore.
Nick Meli, who has a CCW permit and was armed, positioned himself near the mall shooter. Meli did not shoot, but feels he stopped what could have been greater carnage: "I'm not beating myself up 'cause I didn't shoot him. I know after he saw me, I think the last shot he fired was the one he used on himself."
Americans, according to criminologist Gary Kleck, use guns 2.5 million times each year for self-defense, usually just brandishing the weapon. (The attacker is wounded in less than 8 percent of self-defense cases.) Of the 2.5 million, 400,000 claim that but for their gun they would have been dead. If we're serious about "doing something," we might consider shifting the odds in favor of the good guys.