In 1966, Charles Whitman killed 16 people from “the Tower” at the University of Texas. Nothing changed. In 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold massacred 13 at Columbine High School in Colorado. Nothing changed. In 2007, 32 dead at Virginia Tech. Nothing changed. Twelve killed in Aurora this summer. Nothing changed. Now, 20 children senselessly murdered in Newtown, Connecticut. Nothing will change.
With so much senseless slaughter, many Americans quite reasonably wonder why the hell people are allowed to own handguns at all, and why we can’t do anything to change it. They certainly do not understand what NRA President Wayne LaPierre was talking about when, in reference to the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide, he told USA Today that “the one thing missing in that equation is that woman [Belcher's girlfriend and victim] owning a gun so she could have saved her life from that murderer.”
Couple LaPierre’s claim with the other staple of gun rights advocates — that restricting gun ownership would not have prevented the perpetrators of any of these violent crimes from finding a way to carry out their grisly murders — and one can begin to piece together the logic driving the opponents of regulation.
In light of all of the illegal weapons that all sides concede are out there, ought the government be able to tell individuals that they may not carry weapons to protect themselves when it has not shown the capacity to stop the madmen, even if it means that the madmen themselves are on some level empowered? It’s a hard question to which there are no easy or obvious answers.