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Gun violence

Posted: January 31, 2013 3:17 p.m.
Updated: February 1, 2013 5:00 a.m.

We noted recently that we don’t see much reason for people to own assault-type weapons and magazines that hold large amounts of ammunition. And we certainly don’t see any harm to the second amendment in requiring background checks for all people who are purchasing guns. But in the ongoing debate about gun violence in this country, which has reached epidemic proportions, we are all being naive if we think instituting new laws is going to stop such violence. That doesn’t mean some measures aren’t wise and won’t make a small difference in the ownership of guns by people who shouldn’t possess them. But there is no panacea.

Some of the areas with the worst gun violence also have the most stringent regulations. Chicago is a good example. It has what are perhaps the strictest gun laws of any metropolitan area in the United States. Gun shops are outlawed; it’s illegal to own assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; and even handguns were completely banned until 2010, when the U. S. Supreme Court ruled the city had gone too far. Illinois is the only state with no provision for allowing private citizens to carry firearms. Yet gun violence there is out of control.

There is, of course, no simple answer. Hollywood and the video game industry try to pooh-pooh the notion that violent movies and games could be part of the cause. Does anyone really believe that? Probably not, yet there is no rush to limit first-amendment rights. The gun industry, on the other hand, is easy to dislike and easy to blame. As a proponent of tightening such laws in a reasonable manner, we can see both sides of the story. Yes, such laws might make a small difference, but one look at Chicago and similar areas tells us quickly that there is no easy cure to gun violence.

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