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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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"Now" -- as used by the President's spokesman -- means literally "today". "Now" we concentrate on the slain and the families of the slain. That's appropriately respectful. That's not making political hay out of tragedy. After "today" is the time to discuss our growing problem and the politics of gun control.

Yes, thank you Kai. As a parent of two kids, I could only weep as I heard the news. Boating guy, this isn't about stopping violence, it's about minimizing the ability of any single individual to wreak this kind of havoc. However, I have no doubt that the NRA and the redneck coalition will be able to defeat handgun control again and again, by drawing similar false analogies - please explain to me how an imbalanced person with a bottle of beer could suddenly invade a kindergarten classroom and slaughter 20 kids.

Calling for gun control misses the mark. We should be more concerned about seeing that people with mental health issues receive the compassionate care to address their issues. Controlling access to guns would only bar law abiding citizens from exercising their rights. It would not stop violence from occurring. As an example, there was a story on NPR this morning of an attack on a school in China by a knife-wielding assailant. If we are going to be depriving law abiding citizens from exercising their rights because of the actions of criminals, we should not stop with just guns. The criminal misuse of alcohol causes greater death, injury, and anguish by people driving drunk. If we truly want to save a greater number of people from that horror, we should then ban the use of alcohol by all people to keep those who would misuse it from gaining access to it. I do not see this as any different from banning guns. Guns and alcohol are not the problem. The misuse of them is the problem. Conscientious law abiding citizens should not be banned from the lawful use of either of these.

boatinguy's arguments make me tired and angry. Over and over again gun defenders shift the argument: we should regulate this or that, never guns. This country is AWASH in guns and every Friday is mass shooting day, somewhere or other. We have reached a critical moment with this particular episode. Who will lead and help speak for all the millions of us who do not want guns in our homes, schools, restaurants and places of business? Thank you Kai for stepping beyond the bounds of your program. I wish everybody would.

This is about the mentally ill. They need compassionate assistance to protect all of us from their deluded actions. The example of regulating alcohol was an illustration intended to show that this is not about guns any more than this is about alcohol. A legal product that is misused is problematic. Barring responsible, law abiding citizens from access to something because of the acts of the mentally ill or criminal is simplistic and unreasonable. We truly need to focus on the real problem. That is the need to treat the mentally ill and prosecute the criminals rather than infringe on the rights of law abiding citizens so we can feel "good" about doing something to solve the problem. The focus needs to be on the individual who is causing the problem not on what he or she chooses to use that gets our attention.

We evaluate law-abiding citizens for their capability to drive. Why not evaluate them for their ability to wield a firearm responsibly? And if you don't pass the evaluation, you don't get to have one.

We also enact severe penalties for *driving* under the influence of alcohol, not the use of alcohol on its own. It's a false equivalency to associate the moral quandary solely to alcohol consumption.

What does this evaluation look like exactly? How can the government evaluate if someone is responsible? See where this leads?

Amen Kai- we need to talk about this now and follow up with some stiff regulations. Otherwise we will see an amendment proposed to repeal the 2nd one.

Thank you, Kai, for mentioning gun control. So many in the public eye are afraid to use those two words together, but it is time to discuss it thoughtfully and without fear of the NRA.

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