A close friend on the Hill just emailed me an MTV/NYT poll that asked:
Thinking about the violence at Virginia Tech this past spring, do you think that stricter gun control laws would have done a lot to prevent the violence at Virginia Tech, done a little, or had no effect on preventing the violence at Virginia Tech?
In response to this question, 30% of adults said that stricter laws would have helped "a lot," 21% said "a little," and 45% said stricter laws would have had "no effect."
Regardless of your response to this question, I think almost all would agree that what we are doing now to prevent tragedies like Virginia Tech, and gun violence in general, clearly isn't working. Changes in how we respond to gun violence are needed sooner than later.
We make it far too easy for dangerous people to get guns in this country. Stricter gun laws can and will make a difference. Brady background checks have stopped over 1.5 million dangerous people from buying guns since 1994; more than half a million of those denied purchases were caught by the NICS system established in 1998 as a result of the Brady Law, which can be further improved.
The poll referenced above also indicates a split between those who believe that adding more guns to a situation like the Virginia Tech tragedy would have helped reduce the violence (23% of adults), or made it worse (26% of adults). There are thousands of nightmare scenarios involving more guns in tense situations, and a handful of best-case, John McClane-or-John-Wayne-saves-the-day scenarios. There are no easy answers. Adding guns to the mix doesn't seem like a solution to the problem of gun violence.
Thirty-two Americans are murdered with firearms every day, and even more die in suicides by gun and accidental shootings. We need solutions, even if the first steps only help "a little."