The common-sense gun control measures we should take to reduce gun deaths are pretty obvious.
--Ban assault weapons
--Restrict magazines to no more than 6 rounds
--Close the gun show loophole
--Regulate the sale of body armor and explosives
--Background checks, with additional scrutiny on anyone with a history of mental illness and an examination of whether the individual has had any recent severely stressing life events, like losing a job or experiencing divorce.
That said, we must recognize that conservatives are to some extent right. Gun control measures will not stop the violence because A) the country is already awash in guns and large magazine clips capable of dispensing lots of rounds B) Such laws may reduce the number of guns that get in the hands of these kind of individuals, but that reduction is unlikely to be as significicant as we'd like it to be (in the most recent case, for instance, the shooter's guns were purchased by his mother not him. )
We need more creative solutions.
Years ago, I read an interesting article about how the Secret Service has research assassinations and determined investigative techniques for identifying them. According to the link below, this resulted in the formation of the National Threat Assessment Center to asses the threats to Secret Service protectees. Their research found that
"that there is no "profile" of an assassin; however, subjects exhibited a common set of "attack-related behaviors." They further revealed that assassination is an often discernible process of thinking and behavior. Assassins and attackers plan their attacks and are motivated by a wide range of issues. They consider several targets before acting but rarely direct threats either to the target or to law enforcement. "http://www.secretservice.gov/...
It seems to me we've reached the unfortunate point in our society where we all need bodyguards. We need a Secret Service for the rest of us.
We need a group of people who are constantly looking for clues that an individual might be about to perpetrate something like this. The clues are often there. Every time this happens, we learn that there were signs that went unheeded or were simply missed. But if we had a group of people or 50 groups of people (one in each state) looking for the signs of impending violence, maybe we could prevent some of these things from happening.
Maybe this would be a new agency or maybe it would be an extension of the current Secret Service, but there's no question that it would be a different kind of law enforcement agency in that it would be trying to prevent the crime rather than arrest the guilty. And it would raise a lot of serious constitutional questions. As someone concerned with warrantless wiretapping and intrusive government, I think we have to tread carefully in creating such an organization. For one thing, I don't think such an organization should have the power to arrest or detain anyone.
But it should have the power to take preventative measures. I'm not sure what those measures would be, but one of them, I believe, should be the power, after appropriate due process, to revoke the ability of an individual to purchase weapons and to demand that that an individual relinquish weapons they possess. Should they choose not to relinquish them, the agency should have the power to go in an seize them at a time when the individual is not present.
That will no doubt feed into every wing-nut's conspiracy theory about Obama wanting to seize all their guns, but at this point, I really don't care.
After watching this happen over and over again my entire adult life, I think it's time we do something more.