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Ramesh Ponnuru

The Gun Debate Needs to Break Old Patterns

Assault-weapons bans and other familiar proposals would have little effect, and therefore have lukewarm public support. Advocates should focus on practical measures, like red-flag laws.

Again and again.

Again and again.

Photographer: Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images

The mass murder of children in Uvalde, Texas, coming just 10 days after the mass murder of shoppers in Buffalo, New York, moved former Senator Bill Frist — who was the majority leader of a Republican Senate when President George W. Bush was in the White House — to issue a statement on guns: “We can find ways to preserve the Second Amendment while also safeguarding the lives of our children. ... The time to act is now.”

The impulse to overcome long-standing divisions to find solutions is laudable. But the assumption behind Frist’s comment, and much of the rest of the national discussion of gun crime, is that progress is mostly a matter of getting enough Americans to have the right sentiments.