In the wake of the tragic attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that killed six bystanders, many commentators are asking if it's time to reconsider U.S. gun control laws. Isn't there something wrong with a system, they ask, that allows someone as mentally unfit as Jared Loughner access to handguns and extended ammunition clips? But it's a difficult issue--how do you negotiate public safety with individual rights?--and most potential solutions come from policy wonks steeped in gun control's many complexities.The latest gun control policy proposal comes from a source you might not have expected--Gawker. The blog's John Cook, who says that "no one" is seriously discussing gun control and that "It's a dead debate, lost long ago" (ahem), suggests a somewhat unorthodox solution. You should buy a gun the same way you get out of eighth grade social studies: with a doctor's note.
To be fair, an unconventional idea is better than no idea, and the more people engage in earnest policy debate, the better. And who can dispute that violently crazy people shouldn't have guns. We're not gun control experts, either. Maybe Gawker could try putting this idea into the gun control policy debate they say isn't happening and see how it's received.
Ask yourself which measure, had it been in place in the three years prior to the killings, would have been more likely to prevent them: A pledge from Sarah Palin to refrain from violent rhetoric, or a requirement in Arizona that all gun sales be accompanied by a note from a mental health professional certifying competence. Thousands have been demanding the former for the past two days; I haven't heard anyone propose the latter.