Gun Control and Mass Shootings:

Ross Douthat at Andrew Sullivan's blog writes (paragraph break added):

Eugene Volokh wonders how soon is too soon to start the inevitable post-Virginia Tech dialogue about gun control, and Joshua Claybourn chimes in. Obviously, this kind of meta-debate is somewhat academic, since nobody -- from the New York Times editorial page to Michelle Malkin -- seems interested in waiting even a day before trotting out their hobby-horses.

I'm extremely skeptical, though, that there's actually anything significant to learn about gun policy from yesterday's violence: Extreme, unpredictable events like this one seem like precisely the kind of thing that shouldn't dictate lawmaking decisions (though of course they inevitably do). If there's a case for gun control, it's in the daily run of shooting deaths that don't make the front page; if there's a case against gun control, it's in the daily run of crimes deterred by an armed citizenry (and in more abstract questions of personal liberty), not in the faint chance that a kid with a conceal-and-carry permit might have taken the Virginia killer down.

I would add "stopped" to "deterred"; and I would agree that, even if one thinks that either gun control or gun decontrol would have helped in this instance, we shouldn't make broad gun policy based on these highly unusual incidents -- which, tragic as they are, represent a tiny and extraordinarily unrepresentative fraction of all the homicide that's out there. (This of course is a separate question from whether it is improper or disrespectful to discuss policy questions immediately following a tragedy such as this one.)