Yet another horrifying mass shooting, yet another chorus of diaries pleading: Why aren't we allowed to have this conversation?

The problem is worse than that.  Not only are we not allowed to have it.  We don't even know how to get it started.  Even here on Dkos.

I have not seen one single thread in response to a post-tragedy diary -- not just in response to this shooting, but in response to any shooting -- in which the pro-gun / anti-gun forces do anything more constructive than go after each other using the same old rhetoric.  

And a few days after the tragedy is over, the discussion effectively ends; all of the people who were so in anguish move on to other outrages.  Our political system "moves on" as it is so good at doing.  And when the next tragedy happens, the whole process repeats itself.

That said, I want to make it clear that I do not believe in false equivalence and I think the pro-gun arguers are usually worse--not least because they are more informed about the issue and therefore should be better prepared to participate in a constructive discussion.  But instead, they get defensive from the get-go and get into a pissing match trying to shoot down (pardon the pun) nearly everything their "opponents" say.  That's not the way to have a dialogue.

So this time, let's take it beyond lamentation or defensiveness. There's a lot to talk about.  Here's where I stand.

Guns are killing machines. It's what they're designed to do.  They are inherently dangerous.

Mass shootings may not be political terrorism, but they are terrorizing because they make it seem that nowhere is safe.  

Domestic shootings, gun killings over drugs and gang turf, and the like kill far too many people in this country.  They are avoidable for most people, but they are also terrifying for those caught up in them.

It is far too easy to buy guns and ammo in this country.  We license driving.  We monitor and control fertilizer and chemical purchases.  We have permitting and licensing schemes of all kinds for activities that potentially cause harm.  Why not strictly monitor and license gun ownership, while still making it available for those who really want it and are up to no harm?  I'm not just talking background checks.  I'm talking training and licensing--perhaps even graduated licensing, as with driver's licenses.

Relaxed concealed carry laws do not seem to be preventing mass shootings.  It's unrealistic to think that most people will be willing or able to defend themselves in these situations even if equipped with a weapon.  It's time to try a different tack.

"Gun nuts" who stockpile guns and ammo are a red herring.  They are mostly responsible, if sometimes paranoid, people and are not really the source of the problem.  But the organizations they support are standing in the way of addressing it.

Are there alternatives to the NRA with a more reasonable perspective?  How can we support them?

A discussion has to start somewhere.  I suggest starting it from this or something like this.  And, if I may indulge in a bit of false equivalence, I hope those who disagree will have better arguments than "ban all guns" or "knives kill people too."

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