Rule 2. The debate must focus on unusual weapons and accessories: bump stocks, for example, the villain of the moment. Even the NRA has proclaimed itself open to some regulation of these devices. After the 2012 mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, attention turned to large capacity magazines. What is out of bounds is discussion of weapons themselves as in themselves a danger to human life and public safety.

Rule 3. The debate must always honor the “responsible gun owners” who buy weapons for reasonable self-defense. Under Rule 1, these responsible persons are presumed to constitute the great majority of gun owners. It’s out of bounds to ask for some proof of this claimed responsibility, some form of training for example. It’s far out of bounds to propose measures that might impinge on owners: the alcohol or drug tests for example that are so often recommended for food stamp recipients or teen drivers.