The tragedy is that gun control is moving in the wrong direction. The Clinton-era ban on assault weapons expired in 2004 and, to his discredit, Mr Obama has done nothing to try to revive it. In 2008 the Supreme Court struck down Washington, DC’s ban on handguns, and in 2010 Chicago’s went the same way; others are bound to follow. In state after state the direction of legislation is to remove restrictions on gun use (those footling bans on bringing weapons into classrooms or churches or bars), rather than to enhance them.
It is fanciful to imagine that guns will ever disappear from America; they are too deeply embedded in its founding myths and its culture. But that does not mean that more effective checks on the mentally unstable are impossible, or that restrictions on the killing power of what can be sold are doomed to failure. Neither of these will happen, though, unless the blame is directed to where it belongs.