There was a great deal of hand-wringing on one side, and a measure of vindication on the other when the federal ban on semi-automatic assault weapons expired in September 2004. In both cases, the sentiments were unsupported by any significant facts.
The 10-year ban had little impact on crime statistics because, essentially, so few crimes were committed using such arms. And the lifting of the ban sure as heck shouldn't have been much cause for celebration on the part of gun enthusiasts, whose ownership of such weapons is, we believe, largely ornamental and for some kind of strange bragging rights.
You don't hunt with such firearms, and, truth be told, we are relatively certain that most folks who buy these guns for home protection are probably more likely to keep a pistol handy in the bedroom nightstand, rather than a semi-automatic rifle with an extended clip propped in the corner.
These guns are made for one purpose -- killing people -- and they are the efficient weapon of choice for those who set out to do just that in large numbers. In Aurora, in Columbine, in Newtown.
"Once you start drawing the line, where do you stop?" Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert wondered about gun laws on Fox News Sunday. "That's why it is important to not just look at this emotionally."
But the horror of what transpired in Connecticut on Friday is so great that perhaps there is a willingness to start drawing lines.
If you were in any way hampered by 10 years of the previous ban on assault weapons, we'd like to hear from you.
If you would be dismayed by a ban on extended clips, we'd like to hear from you, too, because we can't imagine why.
If you think legislation requiring background checks at gun shows is a bad idea, we'd like you to write us and explain.
Where do we stop drawing these lines? Somewhere on the civilized side of the violent chaos which we seem so determined to embrace.
Assaults on our freedom, you say? Please.
When our laws and culture allow for such easy slaughter of our most precious and innocent citizens, freedom truly is just another word for nothing left to lose.