The lethal arsenal of the Colorado movie theater shooter was quickly
He was armed with a Smith & Wesson assault rifle, a Remington shotgun, and a pair of .40-caliber Glock handguns, all expensive, all bought legally.
Analysts say another thing appears clear: Even with 12 dead and 58 wounded, it's unlikely the shooting will spur more national gun control -- even a reinstatement of the ban on assault rifles that lapsed eight years ago.
Despite periodic mass shootings -- five slain in May in Seattle, 13 dead on an Army base in Texas in 2009, and the deadliest U.S. mass shooting ever at Virginia Tech in 2007 with 32 slain -- the political calculus seems locked down. Most Republicans adamantly oppose tighter gun controls, and most Democrats would prefer to focus on other issues.
Since Democrat Al Gore's gun-control stance was said to have helped Republican George W. Bush edge him out in the 2000 presidential election, the movement to rein in firearms has fallen on hard times.
In 2004, with Bush in the White House, the assault-rifle ban expired after 10 years. The measure, passed when Bill Clinton was president, also banned high-capacity magazines for assault rifles; that provision, too, has now expired.
In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, granting gun makers and gun stores immunity from liability for firearms used in crimes.
In 2008, the Supreme Court affirmed that the U.S. Constitution protects individuals' right to own guns, throwing out a ban on handguns in Washington.
During the last quarter-century, public support for tougher gun controls has dwindled dramatically, too. In 1990, 78 percent of Americans said firearms laws should be made more strict. By 2010, that figure had fallen to 44 percent, according to Gallup surveys cited Friday in the Washington Post.
Moreover, as political scientist Robert Spitzer noted, President Obama has been largely silent on gun regulation while his predecessor, Bush, was in policy terms, "the most gun-friendly president in history."
Given these trends, Spitzer, a professor at the State University of New York and author of four books on gun control, predicted that the political momentum generated by the Colorado gunfire was "likely to be zero. "
A similar forecast came from Harry Wilson, a professor at Roanoke College in Virginia and the author of Guns, Gun Control, and Elections: The Politics and Policy of Firearms.
Headline-making episodes aside, Wilson said, a general falloff in crime rates nationwide has also taken some of the steam out of the gun-control cause.
"Violent crime is not the problem it was 20, 30 years ago," he said Friday.
As a result, Wilson said, he, too, does not expect the deaths in Colorado to alter public opinions.
To his surprise, Wilson said, even the Virginia Tech tragedy in his home state had not provoked much impetus for change.
In that incident, the killer, student Seung Hui Cho, had been deemed mentally ill by a judge and ordered to get treatment. But since he wasn't committed to a mental institution, he passed muster for a legal handgun purchase and was able to buy a Glock, one of the guns he used in the killings.
After his rampage, Virginia added outpatient commitments to the list of
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