Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Dark Night

The death toll stands at twelve, with dozens more seriously injured.  The tragic shootings in Aurora, Colorado by a crazed gunman have rocked not only a tiny community but an entire nation.  And while we don’t yet know what motivated James Holmes to go on a violent rampage during the showing of a movie, we do know the method by which his madness lead to the taking of so many innocent lives.

We’ve seen this before all too often.  Last year it was Tucson, Arizona; in ’07 it was Virginia Tech; and of course who could forget the Columbine massacre of ’99?  The common denominator in all these shooting sprees has been the ease with which the perpetrators were able to obtain the firearms they used to murder their victims.

Sick people commit atrocious and heinous crimes all the time, we are told by proponents of the Second Amendment.  They could just as easily use a knife or run over someone with a car.  It is not the gun which kills, but the one wielding it.

We have heard this nonsense way too much and allowed it to obscure our better judgments.  Yes, it is true that a psychopath bent on murder can choose any means at his disposal to carry out his deed, but show me the cases where a crazed knifeman killed twelve people or, as was the case at Virginia Tech, thirty-two.  Please show me the instances – any at all – where a driver ran over and killed scores of people on a rampage.

I am quite certain that the Founding Fathers did not intend for the Second Amendment to be so broadly interpreted.  It is one thing for Andy Taylor to take Opie out hunting; it is quite another for assault rifles to wind up on the streets where they can be used indiscriminately by unstable individuals.  That these killing machines have not been outlawed is an affront to common sense and decency.

We require people to take a road test before issuing them a driver’s license.  Is it really asking too much for the state to conduct a background check before allowing someone to purchase a gun?  Does it really infringe on a person’s rights to make them wait a few days before they can walk out of a store with a deadly weapon?

There comes a time when reasonable people must come together and say, “Enough is enough!”  The United States leads the industrialized world in violent gun deaths.  The correlation between the number of those deaths and the number of guns on the streets is unmistakable, as is the lack of a comprehensive gun-control policy.  Canada and Europe have strict gun laws in place; only America seems defiant, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Over the next few days, perhaps weeks, we will see the NRA and their allies close ranks and vehemently deny that guns are to blame for what happened in Aurora.  It was the medical profession that failed to recognize the illness which plagued the assailant.

Hogwash!  We heard the same rubbish after the Tucson shooting.  It is no less ridiculous now then it was then.  So far as anyone knew, James Holmes seemed like a perfectly normal man until he snapped and went berserk.  Doctors are trained to spot tendencies in behaviors; they are not mind-readers or soothsayers.

While it is true that a federal gun-control law would not end all gun violence, it would make it far more difficult to perpetrate.  And isn’t that the point of all laws to begin with?  To make it more difficult for offenders to violate the rights of others.  We have speed limits on our roads, not to take away the enjoyment of driving, but to make them safer for everyone.  Is it really asking too much to put some kind of reasonable limit on gun ownership so that responsible people can still enjoy them while, at the same time, deterring other would-be assassins from once more inflicting their brand of terror on the population at large?

1 comment:

Mysterious man from the Shadows said...

I'm not sure that's possible, though. What constitutes a "reasonable" limit on gun ownership? One of the Aurora murderer's weapons was a shotgun such as are commonly used for hunting. Almost any weapon used for hunting or recreational shooting could also be used to commit an atrocity.

People are saying "ban semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines". Well okay, but even if he only had a bolt-action rifle and a hunting shotgun, the madman would have still had enough deadly firepower to harm a lot of people.

To really have a chance at preventing this kind of thing, it seems to me we'd have to ban pretty much every type of firearm made after the 1890s, and frankly, I just don't believe that is anywhere close to politically feasible. What was it then-Candidate Obama said about people "bitterly clinging to guns"? Well, I'd have to say he was right.