The Taft gunman was armed with a shotgun. He was reportedly carrying a dozen or more shotgun shells in his pocket, which, had he had the time and motivation, would have to be manually loaded. Kern County sheriff's officials say between two and four shots were fired at two students, and only one was hit. Had the shooter been wielding a semi-automatic gun the outcome most certainly would have been different. According to an FBI study, even a novice shooter can fire off three rounds a second with a semi-automatic rifle. A shotgun can certainly be deadly -- especially in a crowded place, given the way the shot disperses -- but it's much more cumbersome and certainly doesn't have the rapid-fire capabilities of an AR-15 with high-capacity magazines, where a sustained spray of bullets can make up for poor aim.
For that we can be thankful that we live in a state with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. California already bans the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And it has much stricter requirements for registration and training and rigorous background checks on gun sales. Interestingly, our strong gun laws can be traced to Republican Gov. George Deukmejian, who passed the nation's first assault weapons ban in California..
The shooting in Taft also points out the major weakness in proposals by the National Rifle Association and others that the only way to counter a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.