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.