Has technology rendered the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution obsolete?
That is, has the application of modern military design to civilian firearms produced a class of weapons too dangerous to be in general circulation?
We say: Yes.
Adam Lanza broke into the Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday morning armed with a "sporting" version of the US military's principal assault weapon, plus two equally deadly handguns.
In the blink of an eye, he killed 26 people — including 20 small children, all of them shot multiple times.
How many bullets did Lanza fire?
Did he have to pull a trigger to discharge each round?
But the fact is that the volume of fire produced by Lanza's semi-automatic arsenal was substantively the same as the fullyautomatic "gangster guns" effectively outlawed by Congress in 1934 and again in 1968.
That ban did no real violence to the 2nd Amendment, so it's hard to see how constraining the availability of high-tech military knockoffs would do so today.
An actual crackdown, of course, will be an entirely different matter.
The Supreme Court in 2008 dispatched the notion that the 2nd Amendment applies only to members of "militias" — ruling that it indeed guarantees the right of individuals to own firearms for self-defense in federal jurisdictions.
Two years later, the court emphatically extended the concept to the states.
And then there's the politics of guns.
There are enough privately owned firearms in America almost literally to arm every adult citizen.
And Adam Lanza's rifle of choice — the M-16 knock-off Bushmaster — is insanely popular, just for starters.
Which underscores the fact that historically there is scant political will for weapons control. And it's unlikely that there will be, once the Sandy Hook slaughter fades from the nation's consciousness.
But that won't negate the need for reform. Weapons designed expressly to kill human beings, and then modified (wink wink) to meet the federal machine-gun ban, have no legitimate place in American society.
Time to get rid of them.