For starters, it hasn’t worked. Twelve years after the new regulations were implemented, Time reported on new research suggesting the new regime “was a waste of public money and has made no difference to the country’s gun‐related death rates.” The homicide rate had been declining before the 1996 ban; its post‐ban decline has merely been a continuation of that trend. Indeed, not one other country that has banned guns has lowered its murder rate.
That doesn’t mean our existing gun controls are optimal. Early detection and treatment of mental illness might lead to firearms access restrictions that the most ardent gun rights advocates could support. But regulations must be fashioned with great care, not simply as a formulaic response to the Newtown tragedy. Multivictim killings — heart‐rending and horrifying — are but a fraction of 1% of all murders in the United States, and they will sadly occur even where stringent gun controls are imposed.
Here’s the overriding principle: The Supreme Court has affirmed an individual right to bear arms for self‐defense and other purposes. Such rights are not absolute. But the court’s decisions mean that government must show its proposed regulations will enhance public safety.