When mass killings occur, they more often occur in "gun free zones" than not.
The composition and size of the US, as well as our failed war on drugs, demonstrates that there is no possible way to keep guns out of the USA. Removing the second amendment is very unlikely, and having an all out ban on guns is simply impossible.
When they hit their target, rifles are much more deadly than handguns. The few differences between a so-called "assault weapon" and a rifle do not actually make them much more deadly or concealable. This is why both neither party really pushed the assault weapons ban again - studies showed about the only thing the ban did was encourage manufacturers to make more of them before the ban, and purchasers to stockpile them. It didn't decrease gun violence.
Fully automatic weapons are tightly regulated in the US. You cannot buy, sell, or own one without a permit from the ATF, which is difficult to get. These shoot more than one bullet per trigger pull.
Semi automatic weapons are the norm. These shoot only once per trigger pull, but do not require a manual effort to eject the cartridge, load the next cartridge, and set the firing pin. One can fire bullets as fast as they can pull the trigger.
All other guns require manual action between each shot before another shot can be fired.
A well trained gunman can change a clip or magazine in about a second. The only difference between large capacity magazines and small capacity magazines is this short window of opportunity - and that's only useful if you recognize it, and have the ability to return fire. The recent school shooting and the theater shooting are both instances where having three ten round magazines instead of one thirty round magazine wouldn't have made a difference. In fact Jared Laugner's high capacity magazine jammed, and the Aurora shooter's magazine jammed. If anything, high capacity magazines are a liability for the shooter, and forcing them to use more dependable smaller clips will only make their spree a little more deadly. They will then have to think about taking cover, and planning for magazine changes rather than assuming the large clips will work correctly. One second isn't going to provide much of an advantage until police are on site - until then changing magazines is simply not a problem. Therefore I don't believe reducing access to high capacity magazines is worthwhile. The aurora shooting is very interesting in that he obviously planned and practiced. If he had instead practiced changing magazines in a dark room with a mask on, he would have been a significantly more deadly shooter than he was. Small mags would have forced him to do so.
Mental health checks, and closing the gun show loophole would probably be a little effective, but it would only scratch the surface.
In order to close the gun show loophole, though, you have to either alter the second amendment (hard) or alter citizen's rights to free trade (hard). The only reason the Brady bill works with the background check is due to tax rules and the ATF. Since private sellers are not required to deal with taxes, they are not beholden to these laws.
In other words, the reason the conversation has not moved forward much in nearly 20 years is because the changes proposed (assault weapons - which did cover large capacity magazines) don't work, or can't be enacted without much more sweeping changes to our constitution or rights as citizens of the US.
It would be nice to reduce gun violence. I haven't yet seen a way to do that which would be effective. Even if we repeal the second amendment and restrict all guns as heavily as we restrict automatic weapons, all it will do is make guns more expensive, and make sure that only criminals have and use them.
Photo by RyanMcGuire