As we think about policy choices ahead, there will be a strong tendency to focus on the details leading up to Orlando. We don’t know all of [attacker] Omar Mateen’s motivations. What we do know is that rampage murderers use high-volume, rapid-firing guns.
A nation cannot design a policy around what it thinks it knows about one incident. In fact, the search for facts diverts us from what we should be concentrating on. By focusing on “motivation,” we perpetuate the notion by defenders of current gun laws that we could be “safe” if only we knew more about the individuals who threaten us. Instead, as we work to build good policy, we should focus on the “means” — yes, the guns — because there is a difference between safer and safe. The former is an achievable policy and points to concrete steps we can take. The other is a futile, childish hope.