Charles Krauthammer @ NRO:
Every mass shooting has three elements: the killer, the weapon, and the cultural climate. As soon as the shooting stops, partisans immediately pick their preferred root cause, with its corresponding pet panacea. Names are hurled, scapegoats paraded, prejudices vented. The argument goes nowhere.
Let’s be serious:
Within hours of last week’s Newtown, Conn., massacre, the focus was the weapon and the demand was for new gun laws. Several prominent pro-gun Democrats remorsefully professed new openness to gun control. Senator Dianne Feinstein is introducing a new assault-weapons ban. And the president emphasized guns and ammo above all else in announcing the creation of a new task force.
I have no problem in principle with gun control. Congress enacted (and I supported) an assault-weapons ban in 1994. The problem was: It didn’t work. (So concluded a University of Pennsylvania study commissioned by the Justice Department.) The reason is simple. Unless you are prepared to confiscate all existing firearms, disarm the citizenry, and repeal the Second Amendment, it’s almost impossible to craft a law that will be effective.
Feinstein’s law, for example, would exempt 900 weapons. And that’s the least of the loopholes. Even the guns that are banned can be made legal with simple, minor modifications.
Most fatal, however, is the grandfathering of existing weapons and magazines. That’s one of the reasons the 1994 law failed. At the time, there were 1.5 million assault weapons in circulation and 25 million large-capacity (i.e., more than ten bullets) magazines. A reservoir that immense can take 100 years to draw down.
Monsters shall always be with us, but in earlier days they did not roam free. As a psychiatrist in Massachusetts in the 1970s, I committed people — often right out of the emergency room — as a danger to themselves or to others. I never did so lightly, but I labored under none of the crushing bureaucratic and legal constraints that make involuntary commitment infinitely more difficult today.
Why do you think we have so many homeless? Destitution? Poverty has declined since the 1950s. The majority of those sleeping on grates are mentally ill. In the name of civil liberties, we let them die with their rights on.