First things first. Before I make any remotely political statements I want to first say that my heart breaks for those families in Connecticut. As should that of anyone with a pulse. The fact that people on both sides of the isle started screaming about gun control before the day was out on Friday is profoundly disturbing to me. You don't blame murders on tools. You also don't question the sincerity of a father (who happens to hold our highest elected office) who is moved to tears by such a tragedy.
This is part of why I hate the 24 hour news cycle. This is, first and foremost, a tragedy. It is not a news story. And yet all day Friday all we heard were reports (often conflicting) of this "breaking news." The only thing that ought to have broken that day was our hearts. I digress.
The issue at hand is that of gun control. I intend to be rather brief. Many are calling for a reinstatement of the so called "assault weapons ban" of 1994-2004. While I am all for the open debate of ideas to help reduce crime, I want to make a few observations.
1) The "assault weapons ban" did not reduce crime. Why do you think it was allowed to lapse in 2004? Because it didn't do anything besides restrict what sort of gun one could manufacture or purchase based, primarily, on cosmetic features such as whether there were pistol grips of whether the stock folds. You might have accurately called it a "scary looking guns" ban. Notably, the Columbine shootings occured while this ban was in effect.
2) A constant refrain we are hearing is "we have to figure out something"; the obvious implication being that tragedies such as this one can be prevented. While I believe this view stems from a very flawed understanding of human nature (that man is basically good), I will address it nonetheless. If we take any mass scale action, be it through gun control, institutionalizing more mental patients, or whatever our President's gun violence commission comes up with, it is going to come with trade-offs. For the government to make anyone safer it must, of necessity, grow. And as the government grows, as the power of the collective grows, there is a simultaneous reduction in the power and freedom of the individual. I have not the space here to consider the pros and cons of that trade-off, but it is one we must as Americans be aware of. Just know that no matter how well-intentioned any new law, regulation, or procedure, it will reduce freedom. Laws are, by definition, restrictive. And what they restrict is freedom. That is not always a bad thing, but we must be careful to have weighed that out ahead of time.
3) To all the "pro-gun" people who "support the 2nd Amendment" and then turn around and say you are okay with hunting rifles, but not black rifles: you drive me nuts. Your logic is non-existent. The 2nd Amendment says that the reason the people's right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed is so that there may be a well regulated militia in order to protect our free state (nation). It is not so that we may enjoy bird hunting. Or target shooting. In simple language, the founders said we should have guns so that when bad guys try to kill us or harm our state, we had not only the desire, but also the means with which to fight back. Hunting and recreational shooting are great. I enjoy both. But that is not what the 2nd Amendment is about. It's about being able to defend myself and others from those who would bring harm.
Finally -this is so obvious that I won't dignify it by giving it it's own point- we need realize that criminals don't obey laws. Gangs won't be affected by gun control. Drug cartels will not be affected by gun control. Madmen who kill children won't be affected by gun control.
This world has problems. Should we seek to prevent tragedies such as the one last Friday? Absolutely. But instead of making emotionally charged sweeping changes to law, let's look for things that will actually help.