I must say that the Economist favors far more stringent gun control than I am suggesting. Maybe they are right, but banning semi-automatic weapons, high capacity ammunition cartridges, and other weapons of war would be a good start. The Economist says:
This time may—just—prove different. The crime in Newtown was so horrible that even the National Rifle Association is talking about change. Some form of new regulation does seem possible: perhaps a reinstatement of the assault-weapons ban which, between 1994 and 2004, prohibited the sale of a list of the most militaristic weapons, or an end to the “gun-show exemption” that allows people to buy weapons without the usual background checks that supposedly prevent the sale of weapons to criminals and the insane.
If you want to be safer, change the constitution
These measures will all help, though they cannot be anything like the panacea that the would-be regulators dream of. The great bulk of America’s murders are committed with “ordinary” handguns, not the sort that would be covered by any remotely likely ban; and the evidence that the 1994-2004 ban altered homicide rates is sketchy at best. The list of banned weapons was filled with loopholes, and was easy for gun-buyers to evade. It also referred only to the sale of new weapons, and made no attempt to tackle the mountain of killing equipment already in the public’s hands.
If Americans want a society where schools do not, as the one in Newtown did, have to drill their children in emergency lock-down procedures, more drastic measures should be contemplated. Handgun bans, such as those that operated in Chicago and Washington, DC, before the Supreme Court struck them down, would be needed on a national scale. Gun licences, obtainable only after extensive police and medical review as in most other civilised countries, would be needed for hunting and sporting weapons. Tough police action, coupled with an extensive “buy-back” programme, would be needed to mop up the hundreds of millions of guns that are already held. If, as seems probable, this is held to conflict with the constitution, then the constitution needs to be amended.