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In response to most recent mass killings, let’s ban everything

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They come in different sizes, there are automatic and non-automatic versions, and they were used by UC Santa Barbara killer Elliot Rodger in the most recent murderous rampage. No, they are not guns — they are knives.

According to the Associated Press (via ABC affiliate WFFA), the crazed sex-starved killer stabbed three men to death in his apartment before gunning down two women and a male victim on the college campus. The distraught father of the sixth victim, 20-year-old Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, held an emotional news conference outside the sheriff's office, in which he said, fighting back tears:

Chris was a really great kid. Ask anyone who knew him. His death has left our family lost and broken.

Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA.

They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say, ‘Stop this madness, we don’t have to live like this.’ Too many have died.

We should say to ourselves: Not one more.

Richard Martinez also had words for Barack Obama:

I want the president and the authorities to finally stop these killings. The only possible good thing that can come out of all this is America finally taking action.

Assume for a moment that president and the authorities, presumably meaning Congress, took action. Imagine that they outlawed the sale and ownership of firearms. Let’s suppose further that in order to make all this kosher, the powers that be repealed the Second Amendment.

Two questions arise. First, how would these law changes decrease the number of unregistered, illegally owned guns in the country? According to a Small Arms Survey conducted in 2007 by the Geneva, Switzerland-based Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, there’s no way to know how many weapons are we talking about. For what it's worth, Gunpolicy.org estimates the number of both licit and illicit guns held by civilians in the United States is between 270,000,000 and 310,000,000.

Second, how would these policy shifts alter the fact that half Elliot Rodger’s victims, excluding himself, were killed by knife?

This is not a trifling matter. The violent attacks on students at a school outside Pittsburgh in April were all stabbings. Luckily, none of the 21 victims died, but how does that lesson the horror of the incident?

As Elizabeth Nelson wrote at the conservative blog Capitalist Preservation in the wake of the stabbings, “Jack the Ripper, OJ Simpson, Ted Bundy and the BTK killer never used a gun to subdue or killer [sic] their victims.” She goes on to recite a familiar argument, namely that “guns aren't our problem, mentally ill people are.”

Some will say that’s a copout, arguing that the only solution for ending violence is to remove the agent of violence, i.e., the weapon. But which weapon? Answer at your peril because there will always be a next way of inflicting pain and worse on a hapless victim. Until the human race can come up with a strategy for shutting out adversity, it appears we are stuck.

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