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Mr. Bratton predicts that "the most successful focus is going to be on the licensing and background checks. Because that's the heart of the problem—who gets access to the guns?" he says. "Clearly a large number of people who shouldn't have firearms actually apply through the process and obtain firearms." He also argues that Congress ought to confirm a permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for the first time since 2006.

But the gun reform that truly gets Mr. Bratton fired up is one you don't hear much about these days. It is what he calls "certainty of punishment," or stricter gun-crime sentences.

"People are out on the streets who should be in jail. Jail is appropriate for anyone who uses a gun in the commission of an act of violence. Some cities have a deplorable lack of attention to this issue," he says, citing Philadelphia.
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