Only Two Justifications for Owning Guns
Gone are the days when civilians and the military owned the same handmade guns that only shot one bullet before reloading. In fact, we didn't have a standing army when the Second Amendment was written. When a Uniform Militia was later formed, those who served, used their own guns. Today, we have a National Guard, and 3 branches of the armed services to protect the country, as well as the government. Civilians can't directly fulfill this role, nor is it possible for them to overthrow a tyrannical government protected by the military. Better to stick with legislating changes.
The only realistic justifications for owning guns today are for sport and self-defense. What types of weapons are needed for these purposes? Manufacturers continually build faster and deadlier machines for the military whose goal is to kill as many of the enemy as possible while diminishing their own loses. Since those are not the same goals for hunters or frightened civilians, why are these extremely dangereous weapons on the market and why do buyers want them so badly?
Safety regulatory agencies, which limit all other consumer products, have allowed lobbyists to squash any restrictions that might cost them money. It's a mystery why owners aren't demanding safer guns that can only be used by themselves (perhaps using passwords to unlock them), in an effort to keep them away from children. So here we are now, wondering how to stop mass murders, keep these weapons out of the hands of disturbed people, and still allow gun owners to buy whatever they desire. Perhaps the answer is "you can't".
No one will ever predict the next mass murder, unless everyone is subjected to some futuristic thought analysis and constant surveillance. We should try to deter the more obvious people with background checks, but there will still be extremely angry or scared people who, when pushed beyond their threshold, will reach for that legal automatic gun and kill, not one person, but fifty.
In the last two weeks, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy made sensible decisions to sign new gun control laws. These laws reduce the number of bullets a gun can fire and require criminal background checks for all gun sales. They might not produce any immediate reduction in violence, but it's a beginning to solving a complex problem that has been allowed to fester and grow for too long. Thank you, Governors Hickenlooper and Malloy for signing these bills.
Mary Ellen Owen