An emotional revulsion toward guns inhibits productive dialogue between gun‐control advocates and their opponents. For many gun‐control supporters, a good world is one where private ownership of guns is both unnecessary and illegal.
I have sympathy for the appeal of this ideal, but such a daydream cannot guide our public policy.
There are approximately 300 million guns in private hands in the United States. Even if the government enacted a massive program to confiscate these weapons, the feds would fail in their task and frighten millions of Americans in the process.
And if they did somehow manage to take away legal weapons? That would still leave criminals happily armed.
We must simply accept the inevitability of an America teeming with guns (to the chagrin of Piers Morgan and his fellow liberals). If we at least agree on this realistic starting point, we can move the debate toward reasonable and effective policy proposals: better mental‐health care to prevent seriously ill people with violent tendencies from acquiring weapons; background checks; better enforcement of existing laws.
None of these need to involve taking guns out of the hands of law‐abiding Americans in order for us to avoid the next Newtown. In fact, guns may well help prevent it.
In December 2007, for example, Matthew Murray entered the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., armed with two handguns and an assault rifle (the same arsenal possessed by Adam Lanza). Murray had killed two people in the parking lot before entering the church. Inside, he shot one man in the arm before being shot by Jeanne Assam, a former police officer with a concealed‐carry permit.