The constitutional right to bear arms has been further qualified by the NRA claim that only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.
Let us, for a moment, assume that to be a valid interpretation of how gun control is to work for evermore in the United States.
This might come to you as a shocker: but there is a very solid legal argument that American citizens have the right to carry hand grenades, flame throwers and even shoulder mounted surface to air missiles. The only current criteria is that they should be able to be carried. Indeed, virtually all the canons used by American forces in the Revolutionary war were owned by wealthy citizens or townships, despite artillery not now qualifying as being bearable.
Lobbing mortar shells into an area populated by citizens may be illegal on many grounds, but not on the basis that owning live mortar rounds itself is illegal.
Opinion is divided if you are allowed to park a battle tank on your driveway, but using the case of United States - Emersen as a precedent, it seems that there is no reason why Appeal courts should not allow their possession.
Our good guy with a gun may have to face a bad guy with a belt fed machine gun, carrying enough primed hand grenades that when hit, there will result a wide radius of lethal shrapnel killing everyone within its range. Simply shooting the bad guy, in this scenario, would not be a valid solution.
The NRA has not commented on citizens carrying anything other than guns and rifles, and all its public statements are restricted to opposition to gun control. Which is understandable that the gun manufacturing lobby should only be concerned with their own profit lines. I therefore think it is safe to assume that the NRA will not defend the right of citizens to take a suitcase sized tactical nuclear weapon to work.
Now - if that is so, the NRA does already accept that some arms are not arms that citizens "should" bear - to such an extent that they would give a passing nod of approval to keep them out of the hands of all and sundry, and not just terrorists intent on inflicting mass death and destruction.
Once we all agree that not all arms may be owned by civilians, we could have a sensible debate on where the dividing line is to be drawn, There is already a dividing line, but each group places it at a different point on the scale of destructiveness of weapons.
So - let us now assume our analysis of possible future scenarios only involve guns of one form or another - but only the smaller ones easily carried by an individual. No four barreled Bofor anti aircraft gun modified to be an assault rifle, for example.
Let us take the latest High School incident, in California. From the reports to hand, it would seem that a student shot another student and was talked into putting his gun down by two of the school staff.
An NRA spokesman stated that this was exactly a situation where a good guy with a gun would have been sufficient deterrent for the shooting never to have taken place.
Which leads to a fascinating question - at what point does a good guy with a gun turn into a bad guy with a gun?
Carrying a gun cannot be the criteria - for it is perfectly legal to carry a weapon. To carry a weapon where it is forbidden to carry one? Well, those areas are extremely limited, and even those areas are now targets for the NRA claims to take away the restrictions, No guns in airports and airplanes? Sky marshals and armed pilots show that airborne weapons are the solution, not the problem. No guns in schools? Good heavens, perish that thought - the clarion call is to arm every schoolteacher and administrator who is fit to carry arms. (That "fit to carry arms" is a recent addition from the gun rights group, and may be worthy of looking at in detail once they have defined what standard of fitness is to apply).
In our future scenario, arriving at a school with a fully loaded automatic rifle does not turn anyone into a bad guy, and does not give the gate guard permission to shoot him dead on the spot.
There has to be some act that clearly demonstrates that they guy with the gun is a bad guy - an act so obvious that it justifies deadly fire in response. A good guy stays a good guy until he does something clearly bad. Such as firing without cause on people going about their lawful business.
In other words, the bad guy is to get off at least one shot before any gunfire can be reasonably returned.
We already know that the presence of a small number of good guys with guns is no guarantee of stopping the bad guy from doing bad things: Columbine proves it.
But, taking the NRA case at face value, even the presence of a small army of gate guards will not stop the had guy maiming or killing at least one person before being stopped from harming any more.
At one level, accepting that a single death is far better than 26 deaths or more, I still think it behooves us all - from both sides of the aisle - to see how it might be possible to avoid that single death as well. Waiting for all recent memory to be void of disturbing events so that "unemotional" decisions may be made sounds fine: but the increasing rate of incidents suggests that we may never reach such calm times. We can talk reasonably when anger is held in check.
It might not be possible to get to a zero death rate for acts of criminal violence, but making some attempt should be lauded - and not dismissed as nothing but self-centered politicians trying to illegally take away constitutional rights.