In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., there have been lots of people on cable news and elsewhere demanding that something be done to avert these horrific crimes. But so far, the suggestions range from ill-informed to probably irrelevant.
Some demand measures to keep mentally ill people from buying guns. But we don't know if the killer was mentally ill, much less if he could have been detected as such.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns demands that we take "automatic weapons out of our neighborhoods." But automatic weapons are so strictly regulated they are almost impossible to get, and there is no evidence that one was used in this case. The shooter reportedly used a semiautomatic rifle, a type of gun that is very comon and no more destructive than other conventional firearms.
Another theme is that the government should close the gun show "loophole," though no one knows how he got his guns. The suspect in the Aurora shootings got four guns from retail stores, where the "loophole" doesn't exist.
It's worth keeping in mind that despite gun laws that are allegedly too weak, violent crime and homicide have plummeted from the levels of 20 years ago. I've heard no concrete proposal that would hold out much hope of keeping a determined killer from going into a school, mall or movie theater and shooting people en masse. Until someone does, the discussion is mostly pointless.