What to Do About Gun Safety

Close the federal private sales loophole, regulating ammunition, add military-grade weapons to the National Firearms Act of 1934, mandate waiting periods, increase illegal gun possession as a policing priority:

Ezra Klein talks to the gun policy experts:

That’s where the private-sales loophole comes in: It’s depressingly easy for a gang member to drive to a gun show outside the city limits and bring back dozens of Glocks with few questions asked. That’s something we can, and should, stop.

As for the kind of guns you can buy, a tougher assault weapons ban, with fewer loopholes, and perhaps provisions outlawing bullets built to shatter in the body for maximum damage, would help reduce the lethality of the arms on the street.

“What would that troubled young man have done with less powerful weapons?” says Rick Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. “There very likely would’ve been fewer than 26 victims.”

Another option, says, Susan Ginsberg, coordinator for firearms policy during the Clinton administration, would be to add military-grade weapons — like the Bushmaster AR-15 Lanza used — to the framework set out by the National Firearms Act of 1934, which has been extremely successful in taking machine guns off the streets.

Instituting a real waiting period has helped reduce suicides. The evidence shows that if people can’t get a gun quickly, they often don’t kill themselves. A week should do it. And for the life of me, I can’t understand why I should need to take lessons and pass a test to drive a car, but I can, in many states, get a gun immediately, and with no demonstrated ability to use it safely. So perhaps some mandatory training could be part of that package, too.

Once people have guns, says Phil Cook, a gun control expert at Duke University, we should sharply increase the attention to and penalties for illegal gun possession. Many cops are told to prioritize drunk driving and drug possession well above unauthorized possession of a firearm. Top police departments across the country are learning that focusing on firearm possession can cut homicides. That’s a lesson the federal government could help other police departments learn.


  1. Gun control in any form only prevents the lawful citizen from the ability to defend themselves and does not curb crime. Everybody is concentrating on the type of gun used in this massacre, but if gun violence is taken as a whole across the nation, handguns are more of an issue than “military grade” as you call them semi autos.

    As a responsible gun owner, what i would like to see happen is the following:
    1. Enforcing/beefing up the current laws on the books. We spend way too much time and money incarcerating individuals for things like DUIs, pot possession and other bullshit and not enough on punishing crimes committed with a gun.
    2. Need to beef up the punishment for straw purchasers. I believe there are already some laws on the books tying in the purchaser to any crimes committed with that gun. Enforce those laws.
    3. This has nothing directly due with gun ownership, but there really needs better mental health services in this country. We have county hospitals to take care of the elderly (gracedale) but we closed the state hospitals for the mentally ill. MHMR is always the first area to be cut in any budget, maybe our priorities need to change.

  2. This is another of the cases where the discussion has been dominated by the extremes, thus leaving out the vast majority of us in the middle.

    I believe in the 2nd amendment. And while I would discuss several of these items (for example, how to define ‘military grade’ weapons?), I don’t disagree in principle with what is trying to be accomplished.

    This is the time for the extremes to be ignored.

    And I can’t second strongly enough Mitchell’s comment on mental health. Jon, you’ve seen often that my focus is often what the root cause of matters is, and the dealing with symptoms doesn’t accomplish anything. Mental health is the root cause of the vast majority of violence, with a gun or other weapon. We cannot ignore that any longer.

  3. This is an other case where the right will do its best to characterize the moderate center as extreme. The last election put paid to that deception. Time to start ignoring them.

    • As will the left try to characterize the moderate center as extreme.

      In case you haven’t noticed (and you obviously haven’t), that’s what has been happening.

      Gene, you are exactly the person we need to ignore right now so that something can be accomplished to help protect us.

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