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Final note: There are more than 58,000 gunshops in the U.S.

The U.S. flag flies at half-staff over the White House in Washington.

This final note today, about what happened in Newtown, Conn., this morning.

This isn't gonna be something you usually get from Marketplace. But I've got four kids, as I think I've said before. My first reaction was that there wasn't really an angle for us and that we'd leave it to others.

Then I thought about it. And we did some digging around. There are lobbying numbers and gun sales numbers and firearms permit numbers.

And then there's this.

There are, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (PDF), more than 58,000 gunshops in this country.

There are fewer than 20,000 Starbucks (PDF) in the whole world.

Jay Carney, the president's press secretary, said this morning that this isn't the time to talk about gun control.

If today's not the time, then when?

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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You have obviously never bought a gun. There is a mandatory check with state and federal data bases before a gun can be purchased. To get my permit to carry a gun in public, I had to take a class that taught me the laws regarding the carry and use of a gun. It also taught me how to shoot that gun. I had to pass a test on laws and use of a gun. I also had to prove that I was proficient in the use of that gun. We had students in my training who were denied permits because they either failed the written test or were not able to shoot accurately enough. My rights should not be infringed because of the actions of criminals or the mentally unbalanced.

Ah, but I have bought a gun. Several. All at gun shows. No wait, no real check. Done deal....put down the money and walk out.
You are the exception as you are a law abiding citizen. The ones wanting to get guns to do this type of deed have many avenues to do so. Get them at easy places like gun shows or steal them. Can we control the latter...maybe not too much. Can we control the former...yes we can.

I have also bought guns at gun shows. It took some time before I was allowed to put my money down and leave with the gun. The dealer had to do a federal background check on me to ensure that did not have something in my background that would bar me from the purchase. I also needed a state permit to purchase for handguns that performed the same background check before I even got to the show. People selling guns at shows should need to have a federal firearms license before being allowed to sell a gun. That is an expensive license that they would not be willing to jeopardize by selling to someone who would normally be barred from a purchase.

As a follow on to my original comment\suggestion: The issue of Gun control has almost become as intractable an issue as slavery ever was. The more we ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist in our culture, the sicker we become and the worse the problem, and any possible solution, gets. It will go on until enough of us have had enough...too many lives ruined. People will then take adamant sides on this issue that will sound very similar to those that they took in slavery days....some will shout freedom from tyranny, others will shout about the lives ruined and the cruelty that should and can be stopped. Mark my words closely, it may be the issue of gun control that starts another civil war in this country.

It's not about controlling guns. It is about treating the people who need it. The guns don't go to schools by themselves. I and/or my guns will never be in this situation. We are never going to be able to protect society until we treat the causes of the problem. We need to invest the funds into identifying and treating those who need it.

Thank you for saying so, Kai. How very sad that, after so many horrific incidents, yet another one occurs, and so many people died, most of whom had barely started their lives.

Realize that this number of "gun shops" includes places like Walmart and sporting goods stores like Cabela's and Bass Pro Shop, which hugely inflates the figure.

The educational system of this country also needs to help in developing the EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE (not just the intellectual) of people.

Back in the 80's the NRA lobby concentrated on watering down the "Brady Bill" (re: the attempted assassination of Regan). Look where it got us today...

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