It could happen here in Kentucky

It would be just as easy for a mentally troubled young person, someone who had been rejected by the Army and banned from his community college, to walk out of a gun store with a semi-automatic handgun and a 30-round clip of bullets in Kentucky as it was in Arizona.

Both Kentucky and Arizona scored 2 out of 100 possible points on the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence's scorecard in 2009.

Since then, Arizona outdid Kentucky by becoming the third state to allow the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit.

The only points that Kentucky and Arizona scored in the 2009 survey (www.bradycampaign.org/stategunlaws/scorecard) were for not forcing colleges to allow firearms on their campuses. The highest scoring states were California and New Jersey with 79 and 73 points respectively.

The 22-year-old who is accused of killing six people and wounding 14, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, legally purchased his Glock 19 9mm semi-automatic pistol at a Sportsman's Warehouse. He passed the instant background check required by federal law.

Until 2004, he would not have been able to purchase the high-capacity ammunition magazine because it was illegal under a federal ban on assault weapons. (That means he could have gotten off just 10 shots without reloading, according to a Brady Campaign statement, instead of the at least 20 shots he fired outside a Tuscon Safeway on Saturday morning.) Congress failed to renew the assault-weapon ban in 2004.

In Lexington at a gun show on Sunday, a man who enjoys hunting and was trying to sell a shotgun told one of our reporters it's disappointing when people use firearms in a manner for which they were not intended.

He must have meant when people use firearms in crimes because semi-automatic weapons are intended to rapidly get off lethal shots against human targets. The first Glocks were designed for the Austrian army to replace World War II era sidearms and have since been adopted by militaries, police forces and criminals worldwide.

This is a weapon that was designed for military combat, not hunting or personal protection. It's also a weapon that lends itself to the sick plots of troubled minds. The Glock 19 was one of two weapons used by the Virginia Tech student who killed 32 people and himself in 2007.

Would better regulation of such weapons really jeopardize our constitutional rights?

Would responsible gun owners who enjoy going to shooting ranges (or fear massive home invasions) really mind waiting to obtain a permit to own a gun that in the wrong hands can mow down a crowd of innocent people in seconds?

The National Rifle Association, arguably the most powerful lobby in Washington, cloaks itself in the rhetoric of the Bill of Rights and individual freedom, while doing the work of an industry that doesn't care who its products kill.

The NRA's most recent freedom-defending campaign is to block a law enforcement plan to curb the flow of weapons to Mexican drug cartels by requiring gun dealers near the border to report sales of multiple weapons.

It's time to replace the hysterical rhetoric around guns with a little common sense.

Let that be the legacy of this latest tragedy.