Passions are running high in talks about potential new gun regulation. The right would rather talk about mental health and the U.S.’s violent entertainment culture. The left only walks to talk about new gun laws.
We support reinstatement of the expired ban on sales of new assault weapons and limits on high-capacity ammunition clips. These military weapons have no place in civilian hands. But this is not a whole strategy. The use of assault weapons in mass killings is horrific, but they are used in only a fraction of the nation’s deaths from gun violence. And any ban on new-weapons sales would not address the millions of assault weapons in private hands.
The White House would be wise to consider at least two other measures that polls suggest enjoy public support. One would be to require universal background checks for gun sales, closing a loophole in which more than 40 percent of sales, and perhaps up to half, are not subject to such checks, including through the Internet and at gun shows. The other would be federal legislation to tighten the definitions and penalties for gun trafficking, a problem that plagues the border with Mexico.
Beyond these, the White House can show leadership on the related issues of mental health and of violence in entertainment and video games.