The gun lobby has so cowed the American body politic that it has become unacceptable to talk about gun control in the hours after the latest episode of mass gun carnage.

But some persist. Such as Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. He makes the case that guns can be made safer without taking them away from anyone. Universal background checks, for example, might keep them out of the hands of a few more of the mentally unstable. 


Don’t say, Kristof says, that we don’t do anything about instruments of destruction such as cars. We do.

Cars are actually the best example of the public health approach that we should apply to guns. Over the decades, we have systematically taken steps to make cars safer: We adopted seatbelts and airbags, limited licenses for teenage drivers, cracked down on drunken driving and established roundabouts and better crosswalks, auto safety inspections and rules about texting while driving.

Yet in the case of firearms, the gun lobby (enabled by craven politicians) has for years tried to block even research on how to reduce gun deaths. The gun industry made a childproof gun back in the 19th century but today has ferociously resisted “smart guns.” If someone steals an iPhone, it requires a PIN; guns don’t.

We’re not going to eliminate gun deaths in America. But a serious effort might reduce gun deaths by, say, one-third, and that would be 11,000 lives saved a year.

So, yes. Let’s talk about it. Kristof’s ideas?


We need universal background checks with more rigorous screening, limits on gun purchases to one a month to reduce trafficking, safe storage requirements, serial number markings that are more difficult to obliterate, waiting periods to buy a handgun — and more research on what steps would actually save lives. If the federal government won’t act, states should lead.

I know. Arkansas lead on gun safety? Only in the opposite direction.

The question is not whether more gun safety laws would have prevented yesterday’s killings. It is the fact that stronger laws would inevitably prevent some future killings.