State laws can be effective. After the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Congress resisted pressure from President Barack Obama and refused to act. But Connecticut passed the strongest state laws in the country — with expanded background checks and magazine capacity restrictions — and gun crimes there are down.
The lobbying group that emerged from that massacre, Everytown for Gun Safety, and its offshoot, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, are scoring other important victories in state capitals. Twenty-five states have passed laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Voters in three states last year approved referendums containing common-sense gun regulation.
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Insurance considerations might also be relevant. Premiums for concerts and sports events within rifle range of tall buildings should logically go higher in gun-lax states that allow the sale of easily modified semiautomatic weapons that can spray bullets on crowds. If premiums rose, they would represent another cost that would dampen business and thus help advance common-sense gun safety legislation.
The NRA and its toadies say that no law could have definitively prevented this or any other massacre. This is a dodge: Traffic laws don’t prevent all car crashes or air bags all deaths in those accidents. But they help. If the carnage in Las Vegas prompts even a few more state experiments, something good may yet come from this evil.