In his March 27 column "How to Stop the Killing" David Brooks suggests that trying to limit or control the sale or transfer of guns, including assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips, will have little, if any, impact on reducing homicide rates. He contends that murder rates have dropped since the 1960s not because of attempts to control gun sales but rather because of better policing, higher incarceration rates and cultural attitudes. Notwithstanding, the United States still has an extraordinarily high rate of gun deaths.
Mr. Brooks may be correct in saying that we should continue to focus on what works. However, does this mean that we should abandon efforts to ban the future sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips? Mr. Brooks says that the laws passed in the past few decades, such as the Brady Act, the assault weapons ban and the Gun Control Act, have not been effective, citing studies by the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since, as Mr. Brooks states, the murder rate has dropped by half since President Ronald Reagan was shot, how do these studies support the conclusion that efforts to control gun sales have not been impactful, despite the fact that these laws contained numerous loopholes tacked on by efforts of gun lobbyists? Why do such groups as police chiefs and city mayors, who face crime on the front line, strongly support the ban on the future sale of assault weapons and large magazine clips? Is the statistic cited by Mr. Brooks, that the vast majority of homicides occur in a small fraction of cities, meaningful in light of the mass killings in an Aurora movie theater, a Tucson parking lot and public schools in Columbine and Sandy Hook where, in the latter incident, the killer fired 154 bullets in less than five minutes?