Just like many of you, I've been transfixed this weekend watching the TV news coverage of the slaughter of the innocents at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
And like a bad case of acid reflux, the national debate has begun -- for the umpteenth time -- over the issue of gun control, an issue liberals have simply ceded to the right for lo these many years.
There was a time when I would have argued that the United States' gun laws should be as restrictive as those in Great Britain or Japan.
See also: -Since Jared Loughner's Tucson Massacre, Six U.S. Shootings Have Been Deadlier, Including Today's Shooting in Connecticut -Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Police Chief Daniel Garcia Cautiously Assure Local Safety in Response to Newtown Shooting
But having watched these horrific massacres repeat themselves over the years, and being aware of the fact that most gun enthusiasts I know (some of them die-hard lefties) are law-abiding and not inclined to violence, I accept that there's no silver bullet, pardon the term, for the problem of gun violence in America, much less for such mass killings.
For instance, according to the New York Times and other outlets, the mother of Adam Lanza was a law-abiding gun enthusiast who liked to play Bunco with her female friends.
Indeed, from the admittedly thumbnail portraits offered so far, she seems as if she was fairly normal. (NB: That depiction is evolving, as some have suggested in the comments to this post below.)
If she had not been the victim of her own son on Friday, one can imagine her being horrified at the bloodshed, and deeply ashamed that it was her son who was the killer of 26, including 20 six and seven year-olds.
We don't know enough about Adam to know what was wrong with him or what would have stopped him from harming himself and others.
Many are calling for a new "assault weapons ban," as there was under President Clinton (and for a little while under Bush II).
If that ban were still in place, would it have prevented Lanza's murderous spree, and kept his mom's semi-automatic long gun out of his hands, the main gun he reportedly killed these little children with?
That's unclear to me. An assault weapons ban (AWB) was in place at the time of the 1999 Columbine massacre, for instance. It did not prevent the Columbine killers from obtaining the TEC DC9 semi-automatic handgun that was used.
(Note to gun-lovers: Yeah, I know "assault weapons" is a general, media term, not a technical term, but it serves a purpose. So spare me the pedantry, and go play with your pistols.)