By George Parry

It takes a particularly contemptible brand of cynicism to cold-bloodedly exploit the slaughter of innocent children to promote a political agenda. Yet that is precisely what certain progressive politicians and their reliable amen corner in the mainstream media have done by using the senseless massacre at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School to trumpet their demands for more gun control.

These zealots have shamelessly attempted to manipulate the nation's raw grief into support for their campaign against lawful gun ownership. Despite the overwhelming historical record to the contrary, they proclaim that even more legal restrictions on owning and using firearms will somehow prevent others from acting out their murderous schemes.

But when and where has gun control ever worked to thwart violent predators? Has it worked in the United Kingdom, which has the most restrictive gun laws in the free world? If so, then how to explain the massacres at the Dunblane School in Scotland (17 victims), Hungerford in England (31 victims), and other mass shootings? And how to explain the daily and widespread use of guns by that country's criminals?

Has it worked in Chicago, New York, or Washington, which have some of our highest gun murder rates despite their draconian restrictions on firearms ownership? Did Connecticut's strict, gun-hostile laws save the Sandy Hook children?

In short, can the proponents of gun control point to a single jurisdiction where gun laws have worked other than to disarm law-abiding citizens?

The inconvenient and irrefutable truth is that antigun laws never have and never will deprive criminals of firearms. To maintain otherwise is to replace logic and the hard lessons of history with magical thinking in which a wave of the legislative wand will solve the problem.

Which is not to say that the antigun zealots are a harmless lot of dreamers. Indeed, policies based on their gun phobia have materially contributed to the grisly body count. Local governments in thrall to this bloc have effectively disarmed millions of city dwellers, leaving them defenseless against armed, violent predators.

The most pernicious form of this unilateral disarmament has been the fatuous declaration of our schools as gun-free zones. While this no doubt has made the antigun crowd feel good about themselves and their enlightened moral vision, in practice it has made our schools into inviting, target-rich environments where murder and mayhem will go unchecked until the police make their unavoidably belated arrival. What better place for a would-be killer to seize the media spotlight and achieve instant fame, secure in the knowledge that he will be the only gunman in a gun-free zone?

It is time for the progressive media and politicians to give their antigun agenda a rest and acknowledge the obvious: Gun-free zones are a dangerous myth, and predators, mental patients, and deranged loners have and will continue to have illegal access to guns no matter what laws are passed.

Short of stationing police in our schools, the only practical, truly effective response is to concede that, in a nation of 80 million sane, responsible, and legal gun owners, cadres of school staff already familiar with firearms can readily be recruited, screened, trained, and armed. Facing that kind of meaningful deterrent, the predators will have to find a path to infamy that does not involve the wholesale murder of innocent children.

George Parry is a former state and federal prosecutor practicing law in Philadelphia.