NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With the Senate likely to vote on a bipartisan bill to toughen federal gun controls, Americans should remember the effectiveness of government regulations has limits. Ultimately, new laws will give Americans a false sense of security and further delay efforts to address cultural dysfunctions that give rise to so much violence. The Senate bill would require universal background checks, comprehensive federal regulations for gun transactions and tighter school security. With millions of guns in circulation, background checks for owners and federal surveillance of every single sale -- by a dealer or private individual -- won't keep guns out of the hands of deranged individuals. Too often, the children and other acquaintances of perfectly sane gun owners can get their hands on weapons and instigate hideous events. Locks don't stop thieves -- they just slow them down. Individuals bent on getting their hands on a gun, will -- unless the federal government can find a constitutional way to make most guns illegal, and that is not going to happen. The Senate bill and much of the legislation proposed or recently passed in more progressive states like New York can't change that.
A hard reality advocates of strict gun controls won't address is that semi-automatic rifles of the type used in Newton and other tragedies are necessary for the protection of law-abiding adults in rural areas and many other locations. A handgun is not much use when confronted by multiple armed intruders at 2 a.m., and a police response -- even triggered by a home security system--is 20 minutes to an hour away. Only a weapon that can fire multiple rounds quickly will suffice. Absolutely limiting the size of ammunition magazines would help, but if a deranged person can steal an semi-automatic weapon, he can surely manage to get his hands on one of the many large magazines that will remain in circulation or will be manufactured illegally. They're just not that difficult to make. Labeling folks receiving mental health care a danger to society, for the purposes of gun transactions, tramples all kinds of constitutional privacy protections. Even if authorities could get mental health professionals to fully cooperate, which is doubtful, the overzealous application of "danger to public safety" designations would pin scarlet letters on otherwise harmless citizens.