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How can we stop more shootings?

Friday’s mass murder in Virginia Beach, Virginia, was more bloody proof that we Americans need to do more to curb such violence. It also indicated both why more gun control laws are attractive to some politicians — while futile in achieving the desired result.

On Friday, hours after emailing his supervisor a resignation notice, a Virginia Beach municipal employee entered a city-owned building and killed 11 men and women. Another was shot to death outside. The death toll would have been higher had four police officers not risked their own lives to stop the attacker. One of the officers was wounded.

Officials have revealed that the attacker was armed with two legally-purchased .45-caliber automatic pistols. At least one of them had a noise suppressor, or silencer. Both may have had extended magazines allowing the guns to be fired longer before being reloaded.

But more gun control laws are easier reactions to mass violence than tackling the cause: mental illness. And it appears there were no indicators the Virginia Beach killer was unbalanced, though clearly, he was.

“There’s nothing that hits you right between the eyes,” Police Chief James Cervera said of the shooter’s mental state. “But we are working on it,” he added.

By definition, something went badly wrong in the killer’s mind, however. Finding out what it was — and applying lessons learned to other potential mass murderers — will be difficult, but it is the only effective means of preventing such bloodshed.

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