The Aurora Tragedy: A Few Days Later
Like all Americans I was stunned by the unspeakable tragedy that occurred in that Aurora movie theater last week.
Like most Americans I was horrified by the carnage that one man — sane or insane — inflicted on innocent people with legal and easily obtainable assault weapons and hundreds, perhaps thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Like many Americans I was once again sickened by the gun violence in our country.
While I read a lot of the commentary — both “pro-gun” and “anti-gun” — that immediately followed the tragedy and while I have strong opinions on this subject I have withheld those opinions out of respect for the victims and their loved ones.
Today, even though the shock and grief are still with us, I would like to pose some questions, rhetorical maybe, but nevertheless sincere and not at all in a confrontational manner.
I don’t expect answers. There may never be any. But I believe that just intellectually approaching the issue, rather than politically, emotionally or ideologically may help us to better address gun violence when the conditions “are right.”
I understand that one of the principal weapons used by the shooter in the Aurora massacre was an AR-15 assault rifle, a weapon with a high capacity clip that holds 100 rounds of bullets, and where its trigger is capable of firing 50-60 rounds per minute.
Why does an ordinary citizen need to own and brandish such a weapon?
I tend to agree that guns don’t kill people, but that people do. However, wouldn’t
guns people kill a lot fewer people if those guns were the kind that are reasonably used by people for home protection, self-defense or for hunting and sports purposes and not those high-capacity, high-velocity, “military” weapons that can “efficiently” kill, maim and injure one hundred innocent people in a matter of minutes, along with ammunition expressly designed to increase the killing and destructive power?
It is possible that if one or more people in the Aurora theater had been in possession of firearms, they could have prevented or reduced the carnage. But it is also reasonable to consider the possibility that it could have added to the mayhem. Are we really prepared to go back to the old Wild West days? Would it not be better if the Aurora killer had, in the first place, not been able to so “effectively” arm himself or if he had been detected earlier?
I agree that the Second Amendment clearly states, “[a] well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” But shouldn’t a 21st century nation that already has a powerful, professional national military force in addition to well organized and well regulated State National Guards, and in view of the awesome and lethal firepower so readily available to the public, not have the obligation to examine and define once and for all what and who a “well regulated militia” is, what its purpose is, and draw a reasonable line on the arms that can be kept and borne by the “non-militia” members of society?
Additionally, do the American people truly believe that the day will come when our brave soldiers who are dying by the thousands for us will “become the jackbooted thugs that you’ll need to pump a few hundred rounds a minute into?” Or when our government turns “its armed forces from being the neighbors and friends and family members that it is now into the mindless killing drones that [one is] so sure are just around history’s corner?” asks one writer.
I also agree that criminals will always be able to obtain their guns, even if such sales are strictly controlled. But how many Auroras or Columbines or Virginia Techs might have been prevented — or at least not have been so horrific — if those planning and preparing for such massacres, many times without previous criminal records, would have found it quite a bit more difficult to obtain their assault weapons and huge quantities of lethal ammunition?
Finally, I agree that we live in a free society. But would it be at all possible — without infringing on our basic rights, freedom and liberties — to have better and more consistent background checks (criminal, past violence, mental health, etc.) for potential purchasers of deadly assault weapons?
I admit that even with the most stringent checks, some will still slip through the cracks. But if one or two Auroras are prevented, wouldn’t that be worth some inconveniences to legitimate hunters, sportsmen, etc.?
I know that all these questions have been posed, debated, dismissed and rebutted before — too many times and under similar tragic circumstances.
I also know that, sadly, these very same questions and issues will be posed, debated and, yes ridiculed –as the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto does — the next time the innocent are mowed down, and the next time, and…
In pooh-poohing concerns expressed by so many — from the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne Jr. and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the President of the United States — Taranto pulls out all stops to question and discredit the motives of every “leftist elite” who would dare to raise questions or ask for a reasonable debate about our gun laws. For example:
When people find it necessary to demand a “debate” or complain about the absence of same, it usually means they’re frustrated because there is a debate and their side is losing.
It just so happens that the “side” that is losing and will continue to lose is the untold number of innocent American men, women and children who will continue to die while we call such debate “a slippery slope,” leftist assaults on the Constitution, Un-American, “a camel’s nose to a total or near-total ban on private ownership of firearms and their use for self-defense,” and attach similar disingenuous labels and accusations to the debate and the debaters, respectively. Such as arguing that the New York Times “editorialists claim not merely that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens are dangerous but that it is wrong in principle to save innocent lives by stopping a mass murder in progress.”
I have managed not to mention either “gun control” or the NRA. That is because, in my opinion, it is not about gun control or about the NRA, but rather about how the Second Amendment must give the people the right to own and use guns without taking away the rights of others to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
My hat off to our J. Gordon Mills (aka “cjjack”) for his wonderful essay on what that organization — the NRA — should say under the circumstances.
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