Better Laws Might Have Helped in Tucson


  • John J. Donohue III
Publish Date:
January 13, 2011
Publication Title:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 13, 2011, p. B-7
Op-Ed or Opinion Piece
  • John J. Donohue III. Better Laws Might Have Helped in Tucson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 13, 2011, p. B-7.


An excerpt from The New York Times blog, Room for Debate

In an ideal world, stable, cautious law-abiding citizens would have access to guns and others would not. We would like wise regulation and prudent personal decisions about carrying and using guns. Deciding on the elements of wise laws and consumer decisions requires extensive data analysis beyond any single episode, like the horrific killings in Tucson. But this tragedy highlights some relevant issues.

Laws are better than armed citizens in keeping killers from firing 31 times in succession. For one thing, the killer would have found it harder to purchase the high-capacity magazine that he used had George W. Bush adhered to his campaign promise in 2000 to support the assault weapons ban that lapsed after 10 years in 2004.

Unfortunately, the gun area is a prime example of where good politics and good policy often diverge sharply. One cannot ignore the economic interests of gun sellers who profit directly when criminals can buy guns and then indirectly when the gun lobby uses the resulting mayhem to urge others to seek protection. These interests cannot be expected to tell the truth about wise regulation or seek to promote anything other than a more-guns, more-profits strategy.