For the NRA and their sponsors, this is primarily about business. It isn't about freedom, or the Constitution, or self-defense, or any of the other stuff they like blabbing about. It's about money. There is lots of it being made by a relatively small number of companies, and they don't want the spigot turned off. These gun and ammunition manufacturers and marketers pay the NRA to provide them with political cover and ensure no one messes with their profits. The NRA, in turn, liberally dispenses money to politicians who will support their agenda, and attacks those that don't. It's really that simple.
The question is, since this strategy has been successful for a long time, and since there are millions of guns and millions more rounds of armor-piercing (read cop-killer) ammunition out on the streets, what's to be done?
A friend of mine says it's too late to do anything meaningful. We can tinker around the edges by providing better funding for mental health initiatives, but that's likely to have minimal impact and those funds will be cut again as soon as people forget why they were allocated. We can place armed patrols in our elementary schools, as the NRA has suggested, but the costs are huge and the effectiveness likely to be minimal. BTW - I love that those who make a living selling guns insist there's a simple answer to this problem, which of course is for us to all buy more guns. It's like tobacco companies saying the solution to the problem of second hand smoke is for more people to start smoking. If everyone smoked, no one would be bothered by second hand smoke. It’s really quite funny.
Anyway, I would like to suggest a good progressive solution to all this. I would like to, but I can't. There are too many guns on the streets already, and until we're able to take meaningful action to significantly reduce those numbers, things will likely not get much better.
So ultimately, if we really want to stop seeing thousands of people slaughtered in our streets, our businesses and our schools each year, including innocent small children and their less innocent teenage brothers and sisters, we need to take a comprehensive approach that would include 1) significant reductions in the number of available guns of all kinds - not just limits on future sales; 2) ongoing mental health improvements that would offer treatment and counseling where effective, and remove those who are dangerous from the streets; 3) cultural initiatives to reduce the prevalence and vehemence of violence in our movies, games, and other mass communications so young people (and older ones) aren't continually inundated with gory, mind-numbing messages; and 4) an effort to improve the sense of community and mutual responsibility in our culture so people feel less isolated from their neighbors, more responsible for each other, and it becomes easier to spot potential problems long before they happen, and for people to feel empowered to intervene before it's too late.
Is there the political will on the right or the left to take on such a broad, effective project? No. Would there be if every town in America experienced what Newtown just went through. Perhaps, but I doubt even that would do it. Sadly, we're not a very advanced species. Our simian selves often dominate our more human qualities. Perhaps we’ll evolve one day? We can only hope.