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31 shots

When Jared Loughner walked to a Tucson supermarket and whipped out his gun, he was able to fire 31 shots before reloading.

Thirty one shots.

Amazingly, Loughner did this with a firearm that he purchased legally, because in the state of Arizona—and in most places in the United States—a person, sans background check, can buy multiple genres of guns that aren’t for hunting or target shooting. They are, literally, for killing people. This has only been the case since 2004, when the assault weapon ban expired and, under the Bush Administration, wasn’t renewed. Among the provisions of the ban was a law against “extended clips”—which is what Loughner possessed.

Of course, we know how this one ends. Talk, talk, talk, talk, a statement from Jim Brady, more talk, more talk—and nothing. Our elected leaders know the power of the NRA; know the money that group puts in their pockets. They’ll talk a good game, rib their chins, express concern—then cower in the corner. Democrats are actually worse than Republicans on this, because we know where Republicans stand. Dems pretend to be against massive gun availability, but don’t step up. Ever.

The same is happening now. Barack Obama won’t take a stand on gun control, because he knows it’s a losing battle.

But—here’s the thing—it isn’t. Most sane Americans of both parties understand nobody needs a 31-shot clip. They understand the majority of assault weapons are best left off the streets. They understand that, while guns will always find their way into the hands of criminals, we might as well make it as hard a transaction as possible.

Thirty one shots.