The nation has witnessed two very high-profile shootings in recent weeks -- one at a Colorado theater and another at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
While gun-control fanatics have jumped on these events to promote their cause, the truth is that each of these tragic incidents demonstrates the failure of gun control.
In Colorado, the Century 16 theaters in Aurora are "gun free" zones where people are prohibited from carrying weapons for self-defense.
If this sad scenario sounds familiar, it should -- as almost every large-scale massacre in this country has occurred in an area where guns are outlawed: Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, etc.
In all of these shootings, the victims were disarmed by law or regulation -- yes, even at Fort Hood. They were made mandatory victims by restrictions that never stop the bad guys from getting or using guns.
In Wisconsin, Wade Michael Page bought his guns legally at a gun store before killing six people at a Sikh temple. This underscores the obvious: No background check in the world can stop a hate-filled person like Page, who had a clean record, from acquiring firearms. Nor can the checks stop determined criminals, who only have to acquire fake IDs to conceal their identities.
In fact, many countries that have much stricter gun controls than the United States have failed to prevent gun-related massacres from occurring. In Norway last year, 69 people were gunned down by one person. In England, a taxi driver used an illegal gun to murder 12 people in 2010.
Those shootings are just the tip of the iceberg, as massacres have occurred all over the world in gun-control havens.
Nevertheless, some think curtailing our "easy access to firearms" will make us safer. If that were true, how does one explain El Paso, Texas, which was ranked by CQ Press as America's safest big city in 2010 -- even though residents there can carry concealed firearms (and live quite peacefully)?
Right across the border, Juarez City, Mexico, has very stringent gun-control laws and one of the highest murder rates in the world. Any sensible person would choose El Paso over the "gun free" zone in Juarez.
Despite these obvious lessons, there have been calls on Capitol Hill to punish the millions of American citizens who have not -- and will not -- ever commit crimes. Among other things, gun-control advocates want to limit the size of magazines, arguing, "No one needs that many rounds of ammunition."
This is a dangerous argument. If we turn the Bill of Rights into a "Bill of Needs," our liberties will be short-lived for sure. After all, who needs the dozens of newspapers and magazines that line the shelves of supermarkets? Or who needs a car that drives more than 100 mph?
Still, some ask, who really needs a magazine that holds lots of ammunition? How about the displaced people who, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, had to fend for themselves against roving gangs?
How about the Korean merchants who armed themselves with "assault" weapons and large-capacity magazines during the Los Angeles riots in 1992? Their stores remained standing while others around them burned to the ground.
This shows that when one is facing gang or mob violence and the police are nowhere to be found (as occurred in both examples above) you need more than just a six-shooter. There are, literally, millions of examples where good people had to protect themselves long before the police could reach them.
Take the shooting at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs in 2007. A gunman armed with 1,000 rounds of ammunition entered the church intending to commit the greatest slaughter on U.S. soil using a gun.
But he was able to kill just two people because he was met by an armed woman, Jeanne Assam, who used her concealed firearm to incapacitate the gunman, thus saving hundreds of lives at the church before the police could arrive.
Even recently, the nation has been treated to a couple of very dramatic self-defense shootings. One occurred at an Ocala, Fla., Internet cafe, the other at a jewelry store in Garden Grove, Calif.
In both cases, security cameras captured the shootings, and the videos show peaceful, armed people sending the bad guys fleeing -- even tripping over themselves -- as they storm out the door.
All of this shows that gun owners want politicians to focus their efforts on punishing bad guys and to leave their guns alone.
Voters do not vote for gun control. This was President Bill Clinton's conclusion after he lost control of Congress in 1994, and it was the conclusion of the Al Gore campaign after he lost his bid for the presidency in 2000.
According to polling organizations Rasmussen in 2007 and Gallup in 2009, more Americans oppose gun control than support it.
Considering all this data, any candidate who supports gun control should be asked the old Dirty Harry question: "Do you feel lucky, punk?"
Larry Pratt is executive director of Gun Owners of America. Erich Pratt, GOA's director of communications, contributed to this article.