My friend Paul Barrett, writer of the book "Glock: The Rise of America's Gun" was interviewed today on NPR -- the link goes to the audio.

"Paul Barrett, author of Glock: The Rise of America's Gun, says stricter gun laws might not make a difference. In an article Friday for Bloomberg Businessweek, he wrote that things like assault weapons bans are "utterly pointless."

He cites a ban on assault weapons in the 1990s. There hasn't been hard evidence showing how specific legislation made a significant impact on crime rates, Barrett says. He also notes that the gun industry found ways to change their designs to get around the ban, and that a type of gun which had not previously been popular actually became more appealing.
"As happens pretty consistently with our strange — you could even say perverse — firearm market place in this country, when you try to restrict something, you try to ban it, it makes it more popular among people who like guns," he says.

Barrett says he understands the human need for action, and banning a weapon can feel like substantive progress. "But it's also important to distinguish between symbolic gestures and the particular goal you're trying to accomplish," he says.

Although he wishes it weren't necessary, Barrett says his first recommendation is increasing security in certain public places, including movie theaters and schools. The second thing he says he would do involves finding a better way of dealing with mental illness: getting people help early on and separating them from weapons.

Neither increased security nor a new approach toward mental illness demands a debate over the Second Amendment, he says. Those debates can happen alongside other changes.

"By the way, there are certain gun control changes that I support, too," Barrett says, "but I don't have the illusion that they would prevent mass killings like the one we've just witnessed."

Paul Barrett is an editor and senior feature writer at Bloomberg Businessweek and an adjunct professor at New York University Law School."
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