I started to post this as a comment to Mooncat's diary, but being a typical lawyer, I knew it would be too wordy. So, with apologies to Mooncat, I made it a new diary.
So everyone will understand my bias, I am a strong supporter of the right to bear arms (the 2nd Amendment) and own several guns myself and while I seldom blow away saplings, I do punch a few holes in paper targets from time to time and have been known to go hunting.
That said: the problem which prevents having an intelligent conversation about gun control is the same problem which keeps our leaders from having an intelligent conversation about anything: the debate is dominated by the two extremes.
On the one hand, the NRA opposes any and all rules, regulations and controls on any gun (or ownership thereof) period. At the other extreme, are those who by gun control mean the absolute ban on private ownership of guns.
In between are many who would consider reasonable regulation on some weapons but are adamently opposed to absolute bans.
The conversation is further limited (in my opinion) by a failure to clearly define what we are discussing.
For example Mooncat refers to semi-automatic weapons as being guns designed to shoot a lot of people quickly. I own a semi-automatic shotgun which I inherited from my grandfather. It holds 5 shots.I also own a semi-automatic rifle (30-06) which holds 5 shots. They were designed as hunting weapons.
A semi-automatic weapon is simply one that reloads itself after a shot is fired without any physical action by the shooter. That feature in no way makes it anymore lethal than any other type of gun.
An assault rifle (such as the AR-15 used by the Colorado shooter) is a different animal.