Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson. Now Aurora. All of these mass shootings share a common element that made them more deadly: high-capacity ammunition magazines. These cases, and many others, argue loudly for banning the sale of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds.
Americans support the Second Amendment and the right to self-defense for which it stands. We count ourselves among those Americans. But self-defense does not require a 100-round drum magazine for the assault rifle that the Aurora police chief says the assailant used in the attack that killed 12 and wounded 58 last week.
Self-defense does not require the 33-round magazine that the killer used to wound Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and five others and kill six in Tucson last year.
Self-defense does not require the high-capacity magazine that the killer at Virginia Tech used to murder 32 people in 2007.
Prior to 2004, the so-called assault weapons law limited these magazines. A craven Congress allowed that law to expire. A new ban on the sale of assault weapons should be enacted, including limits on high-capacity magazines.
No one should have any illusions that a new law would magically make high-capacity magazines or assault weapons disappear. For one thing, countless numbers of both have been sold legally in the United States since 2004. Critics of the previous assault-weapons law also can point out, rightly, that the Columbine massacre occurred in 1999, when the assault-weapons law was in effect.
But that does not overcome the fact that continuing to allow the sale of weapons that are designed for military use and that fire many rounds in quick succession without reloading only invites more carnage.
The National Rifle Association and other critics of the previous assault weapons law claimed that it was ineffectual because it only outlawed cosmetic features of certain guns whose action is identical to that of legal hunting rifles. They had a point, although the NRA didn't exactly knock itself out trying to design a more effective law that would be more difficult for gun manufacturers to dodge.
Clearly, that's not a job for the NRA. It's a job for Congress.
The situation cries out for additional reforms, such as placing limits on the number of long guns that can be sold to a single person within a short period of time.
But given the ferocious political power of the NRA, few politicians, including the president, are even willing to talk about sensible reforms. That is a tragedy in itself.