Colorado shooting initiates questions, but are we afraid of the answers?

Jul 23rd, 2012 | By | Category: Featured Articles, guns, Main Article, NRA, Second Amendment

Beyond the delusional thinking of politicians such as Russell Pearce, the man who questioned why no one was courageous enough to take down the gunman in the Aurora theatre, there are real questions about what, if anything, our government could do to stop these types of massacres.

First, let’s put to rest the outrageous statements of lawmakers such as Texas Representative Louie Gohmert, who believes more lenient gun control laws could have helped save lives in the shooting.

The gunman was outfitted in SWAT clothing – bulletproof vest, ballistics helmet – and had thrown canisters of tear gas into the theatre before firing off dozens of rounds of bullets into the crowd… in less than 60 seconds. Anyone who thinks he/she would have been able to ‘take down’ the gunman in this type of chaos is completely out of touch with reality.

There were several highly trained military officers in the theatre. Even with a sidearm, these individuals could not have done anything to stop this gunman before he was able to unload dozens and dozens of shots into the crowd.

Some brave politicians, most notably Independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as several major city police chiefs, have called for a return of the 1994 assault weapons and high clip ammunition bans. Had this ban been in place, the Aurora gunman would not have been able to legally purchase either the assault weapon or the ammunition that was capable of causing so much damage.

Without a high-power assault weapon, the scenario of ‘taking down’ the shooter would have been much more likely, though even with a handgun, the shooter still could have killed multiple people.

No weapons or ammunition ban can guarantee an end to the types of massacres that have become more commonplace in this country, and indeed, better access to mental health services is needed in a country where so many people are disconnected from their family and neighbors. However, we need to question why an assault weapons ban is considered a bad thing?

Do average citizens really need military-style weapons? Do average citizens need access to 100-round magazine clips? And has the NRA really become so powerful that our politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, are afraid to approach the subject?

No one’s looking to overthrow the Second Amendment. No one’s looking to take guns away from our hunters and every-day, law-abiding citizens. This isn’t about being anti-gun. This is about gun safety. This is about sane gun policy.

The Aurora gunman was able to purchase thousands of rounds of ammunitions off the Internet with the knowledge that law enforcement would never be alerted. This is yet another gun safety loophole activists have been trying to close while lawmakers pretend not to notice. Another major loophole includes the ability to forgo background checks by selling weapons at gun shows and from one’s own home.

Closing these loopholes are sane, understandable policies that lawmakers could easily enact but are too scared and too unwilling to take a chance on. The thought is that it’s better to maintain the status quo than risk losing an election to a heavily funded NRA candidate, which speaks volumes about the power of this lobbying group.

The fact is, politicians will not stand up and demand an end to loopholes or an end to assault weapons or high capacity magazine clips. It needs to come from the citizenry. We need to begin a dialogue on gun safety and start giving a damn about the thousands upon thousands of innocent lives that are ended or destroyed by gun violence each year.

The phrase, “guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” is a load of crap. My husband was 6’ 3” tall, 220 pounds. He wasn’t killed because a 5’ 7” tall, 182-pound criminal overpowered him. He was killed because two bullets entered the back of his head and crossed through both hemispheres of his brain. Had my husband’s murderer, a convicted felon, not had a gun that day, he would not have been able to kill my husband.

More lenient gun policies would not have helped my husband, either. He wasn’t alone that day. His partner was there, too. His partner was armed. But even this highly trained, armed police officer wasn’t able to stop my husband’s murderer.

For all the outrage shown over my husband’s death, not once did I hear a single politician question why it was so easy for a criminal to get his hands on a gun. Not once did I hear a single politician demand stricter enforcement of gun laws. Not once was the ‘rule of law’ argument used to justify the need for better regulation of gun sales and purchases. Not once.

We have a problem in this country. We have a situation where it is so easy for criminals to get his/her hands on a gun, that the question of why or how is no longer even asked. It’s as if we have given up completely on regulating guns and have no issue with the ease with which criminals are allowed to obtain weapons.

Do we really want to be a country known for our gun violence? Is it okay with you, yes, I’m talking to anyone and everyone reading this blog post: Is it okay with you that a criminal has easier access to a gun than access to a therapist?

If not, then I suggest you contact your legislator and let him or her know. I suggest you join with others who are demanding better regulation of the gun industry and legislation to close gun loopholes. I suggest you seriously consider supporting an assault weapons and high capacity ammunitions ban.

Don’t assume gun violence will never affect you. We have far too many examples, including the 58 people injured and 12 killed in Aurora, who prove otherwise.

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13 Comments to “Colorado shooting initiates questions, but are we afraid of the answers?”

  1. mike slater says:

    Julie, do you realize that the shooter in Colorado bought all his guns and ammo legally? My son is a cop and has all the weapons the shooter had. Should my son have not been allowed to purchase those weapons?

    First thing we need to do is to define what an assault weapon is. The AR-15 that was used is not an assault weapon. It is a semi-automatic weapon. One pull of the trigger equals one shot fired. An assault weapon is a fully automatic weapon which means you pull the trigger and fire all the ammo in the magazine.

    As far as criminals are concerned that don’t buy weapons legally, they either steal them or find some private party to buy them from.

    All more gun control laws will do is make it harder for a law abiding citizen to purchase a weapon.

    Unfortunately we will always have people in our society that have mental problems but passing more gun laws is not the answer.

    • Julie Erfle says:

      Yes, Mike, I know he purchased all of his guns and ammo legally. That’s one of the problems I’m pointing out. How does banning high capacity magazines impinge on your Second Amendment right to bear arms? It doesn’t. And shouldn’t there be some notification to law enforcement if an individual purchases 6000 rounds of ammo off the Internet? Again, how does that impinge on your rights as a gun owner? It doesn’t. I would think that if your son is an officer, you’d be concerned as well about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. Closing gun loopholes can go a long way in making it more difficult for felons to obtain weapons, and if you’re a law-abiding citizen, enforcing gun laws shouldn’t bother you.

  2. Dr.W says:

    Mexico has very strict gun control. Assault weapons along with just about every other firearm are illegal there yet the amount of gun violence with assault weapons is much much worse in Mexico. If Mexico’s strict gun laws do not work there then why will they work here? Colorado also needs to make bomb making illegal because he had a few of them in his apartment. If there would have been an anti bomb making law he would not have been able to acquire any.

    • Julie Erfle says:

      You’re right… Mexico does have strict gun control laws, and it has been noted by the Mexican government and acknowledged by this government that the vast majority of illegal weapons in Mexico come across the border from the United States. As stated above, gun safety policies cannot end gun violence or help the mentally unstable, but they can go a long way in helping to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

  3. mike slater says:

    Julie, why did you say that you somehow doubt that my son is an officer? Do you need his badge number? I never use his name or the city he works for because he asked me not to.

    I never mentioned the 2nd amendment in my comments but why shouldn’t a lawful person be able to purchase any legal weapon and any legal magazine?

    The crux of the problem is some people, and I suspect you are one of them, don’t believe that certain weapons and magazines should be on the market.

    If one looks around the country the states and cities with the most strict gun control laws also have the most crime and gun deaths. The City of Chicago is a prime example. Already this year they have had over 200 gun related murders yet here in Arizona with our concealed carry laws the murder rate is much lower.

    • Julie Erfle says:

      Mike, I don’t doubt your son is a police officer. You misread what I said. I don’t need nor would I want to have his name or badge number or department he works for published on this blog. Believe it or not, but I happen to care about officer safety.

      And yes, you are correct. I do not think that high capacity magazines or assault weapons should be on the market. That’s what I said in the article.

      If having more guns makes the world a better place, than the United States would not have one of the highest rates of gun violence in the world. But it’s not simply about numbers of guns… it’s about making sure that those who have lost their right to gun ownership are not able to obtain them.

  4. John S Martinson says:

    In response to Mike Slater, here is the definition of an assault weapon as defined by the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) (or Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act) that was a subtitle of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Assault_Weapons_Ban#Definition_of_assault_weapon

  5. CWS says:

    Michael Bloomberg is not a “brave politician”. He is another gun control liberal, but with his own contingent of armed guards. We need guns to protect us from a takeover by politicians exactly like him, who believe the underclass needs to be controlled. Freedom is maintained in this country by an armed citizenry. The trained police will not keep us free.

    • Julie Erfle says:

      We have different versions of what it means to be “free.” Having to carry an assault weapon with me to the movie theatre or the grocery store so I’m sure I can protect myself against any citizen — criminal or not — does not make me feel free but rather trapped in a police state. I do not want to live in a society where everywhere I go I have to either undergo a TSA screening or be sure to pack heat.

  6. Dustin says:

    “How does banning high capacity magazines impinge on your Second Amendment right to bear arms?”

    Amendment II 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.

    Question 1….who is the Militia?

    “The right of the people to keep and bear … arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country …”
    – James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789

    “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.”
    — George Mason, in Debates in Virginia Convention on Ratification of the Constitution, Elliot, Vol. 3, June 16, 1788

    “Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American…[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”
    –Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.

    The Militia IS WE THE PEOPLE.

    Question 2….Why have the Militia??

    “The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpation of power by rulers. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of the republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally … enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”
    – Joseph Story, Supreme Court Justice, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, p. 3:746-7, 1833

    “Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms … The right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard, against the tyranny which now appears remote in America but which historically has proven to be always possible.”
    – Hubert H. Humphrey, Senator, Vice President, 22 October 1959

    The second amendment ensures that we, the people, can defend ourselves against government if government usurps authority or powers and becomes tyrannical. (We can discuss this point further if you’d like).

    Question 3….How can We the People defend ourselves against a tyrannical government if we are armed with only shotguns and single shot deer rifles? Governments have a looooooong history of becoming tyrannical.

    Conclusion…..Banning high capacity magazines would certainly impinge on our Second Amendment right to bear arms, it would knock out ALL of its teeth and leave it for dead.

    • Julie Erfle says:

      Dustin, there’s a great article you should read entitled, “Know your gun rights history.” In it you’ll see that laws concerning the banning of concealed weapons passed as early as 1813, and in 1934, a comprehensive gun control law not only passed Congress but was unanimously upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. But perhaps the best part of the article is the quote by the former Chief Justice Warren Burger who said that the new interpretation of the Second Amendment was “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special-interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

      In response to Question 3, I’d like to add that this country had an uprising against what some considered a “tyrannical” government. It was the Civil War, and the “tyranny” was the decision to end slavery. TIME magazine had an interesting article a couple years back about the rise in local militias and the tie to the belief that President Obama was a Muslim who was planning on destroying this country. I’d rather not see my country torn apart by individuals rising up against a duly elected President.

      • Dustin says:

        I tried finding the article you referenced. If it is a CNN Blog Article, it has been removed. Every link I found led to a page stating ‘the page could not be found’.

        Instead, I went back a little further in history, prior to any supreme court rulings on the 2nd amendment. I found some interesting information I’d like to share. My sources are the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers. Specifically, Anti-Federalist #29 Objections to National Control of the Militia and Federalist #29 Concerning the Militia.
        The Anti-Federalists and the Federalists both agreed that their present form of government needed change, but they disagreed about the specifics. One area of disagreement was whether the general government should be in control of the Militia. The Anti-Federalists were opposed to granting the General Government authority over the Militia. They believed that doing so would create a serious threat to liberty. In an effort to keep this short, I will not present the Anti-Federalist quotations. Anti-Federalist Paper #29 can be found at the following address. http://www.wepin.com/articles/afp/afp29.html

        Here’s a portion of the Federalist rebuttal to Anti-Federalist #29 taken from http://www.foundingfathers.info/federalistpapers/fedi.htm

        “There is something so far-fetched and so extravagant in the idea of danger to liberty from the militia, that one is at a loss whether to treat it with gravity or with raillery; whether to consider it as a mere trial of skill, like the paradoxes of rhetoricians; as a disingenuous artifice to instil prejudices at any price; or as the serious offspring of political fanaticism. Where in the name of common-sense, are our fears to end if we may not trust our sons, our brothers, our neighbors, our fellow-citizens? What shadow of danger can there be from men who are daily mingling with the rest of their countrymen and who participate with them in the same feelings, sentiments, habits and interests? What reasonable cause of apprehension can be inferred from a power in the Union to prescribe regulations for the militia, and to command its services when necessary, while the particular States are to have the SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE APPOINTMENT OF THE OFFICERS? If it were possible seriously to indulge a jealousy of the militia upon any conceivable establishment under the federal government, the circumstance of the officers being in the appointment of the States ought at once to extinguish it. There can be no doubt that this circumstance will always secure to them a preponderating influence over the militia.” Alexander Hamilton, Concerning the Militia, Daily Advertiser, January 10, 1788.
        According to Alexander Hamilton, the Militia is made up of citizens, not military. The constitution allows the Federal Government to command the Militia’s services, but the States get to assign the officers. Here is another portion from the same paper:
        “The project of disciplining all the militia of the United States is as futile as it would be injurious, if it were capable of being carried into execution. A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss. It would form an annual deduction from the productive labor of the country, to an amount which, calculating upon the present numbers of the people, would not fall far short of the whole expense of the civil establishments of all the States. To attempt a thing which would abridge the mass of labor and industry to so considerable an extent, would be unwise: and the experiment, if made, could not succeed, because it would not long be endured. Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year.”
        “But though the scheme of disciplining the whole nation must be abandoned as mischievous or impracticable; yet it is a matter of the utmost importance that a well-digested plan should, as soon as possible, be adopted for the proper establishment of the militia. The attention of the government ought particularly to be directed to the formation of a select corps of moderate extent, upon such principles as will really fit them for service in case of need. By thus circumscribing the plan, it will be possible to have an excellent body of well-trained militia, ready to take the field whenever the defense of the State shall require it. This will not only lessen the call for military establishments, but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.”
        Conclusion: Militia always represents citizens, while Military represents government. Also, notice that the Militia should be “little, if at all, inferior to the military in discipline and the use of arms.” This would not be possible if the Militia only had shotguns and deer hunting rifles.
        The only point I’m trying to make is that the 2nd amendment was specifically intended to be a check against government. If you can concede this point to me, we can discuss an even bigger question……Is this check on Government still necessary today or has our culture evolved to a point where fear of government is unnecessary?

        • Julie Erfle says:

          Dustin, I’m not sure why that link didn’t work, but here’s the link to the same article published in TIME magazine:

          I agree that the 2nd Amendment was intended as a check against power by the federal government. I do not believe we need to give up our right to bear arms. My point is that all freedoms, including the freedom of speech, must be balanced with public safety. Weaponry has evolved over the last few centuries beyond what the founding fathers could have imagined. We need to concede that not every single weapon or ammunition should be in the hands of ordinary citizens and that it’s okay to take precautionary measures to ensure that mentally unstable individuals and felons are not allowed access to these weapons. Regulating firearms with background checks and closing gun show loopholes does not impede our right to bear arms, just makes us a more responsible society, and in my view, adds to our freedom.

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