When gun violence becomes personal — for example, for Ronald and Nancy Reagan and many of their supporters after the 1981 assassination attempt — people adjust their thinking. Because the latest target was a member of Congress, debates about protecting politicians and the American people cannot be avoided. This shooting also highlighted, again, our weak gun laws. Those laws made it legal for the gunman to buy military-style ammunition magazines holding 30 rounds; to buy the gun capable of firing those bullets; and to carry that loaded gun without a permit. Not until the gunman fired at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords did he break any law. This shooting shows also that sensible laws can reduce gun violence. The toll from Tucson would been have minimized had Congress not let the ban on high-capacity clips expire in 2004. — Paul Helmke, president, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
The recent shootings in Arizona were a national tragedy and the acts of a lone gunman. Allegations have been made that they were the result of lax gun laws and heightened political rhetoric. Neither is the case. Unfortunately, there will be knee-jerk reactions from lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to make gun laws even more oppressive. Let me be very clear: Gun laws were not the reason that a socially isolated individual, an anarchist, allegedly chose to open fire on an elected official, her constituents and a federal judge. And changing the gun laws will not prevent such a tragedy in the future. For example, gun violence in the District of Columbia was consistently among the highest in the nation throughout the 30 years that the city banned handguns. A criminal or a madman such as the Tucson shooter will use other means to purchase handguns. I certainly hope that Congress will not feel motivated to create more miserable failures across the country with tougher gun laws. — Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.