Aurora Shooting and the Culture of Guns

Why do we need guns? Because others have guns! Makes sense, right?

July 25, 2012

The shootings in Aurora, Colorado have once again brought up the debate about gun control, and once again, the Right is shrieking that it’s being persecuted all because someone used the laws they passed and killed a dozen people.

Let’s get a few things out of the way first.

I am pro-second Amendment. I believe it’s a good idea to be able to own guns. I understand hunting and shooting are part of our national heritage and can exist without animosity or hate towards others. However, I also have the capacity for critical thinking.

And the NRA and pro-gun lobby are dangerously wrong on a lot of points. And poor me, all I have is documented evidence instead of calls to fear and persecution.


We will rise again | Batman: The Dark Knight Rises by ~chanchan222 on deviantART

“If there had been another person there with a gun, this could have been stopped!”

Really? Holmes was wearing ballistic armor (which you can apparently just buy online) and had thousands of rounds at his disposal. Unless the other person inside the theater was a crack shot and managed to shoot an area without protection, handguns would have been near-useless. Assault weapons might have done the trick, but then you’d be advocating we should be allowed to bring rifles into places like movie theaters.

The idea that some lone hero could stop these tragedies lies with our romantic notion of the lone gunslinger, the brave soul who steps up and solves the problem before it starts.

Consider this. Katie Pavlich was in a church when an armed assailant went in with the intent to kill. She put him down before he initiated a massacre. Sounds like a great argument for being able to own guns and take them anywhere, right? One problem, though. Pavlich was an armed security guard hired by the church. Yes, a gun stopped the massacre, but that’s because she and her team knew who was and wasn’t supposed to have a firearm inside. Plus, they were on watch. In the middle of a chaotic shooting, if more than one person is firing, how are bystanders going to know who to shoot at?

Also, remember that human reaction time is roughly a third of a second, but if everyone had a gun, this might offset that sort of delay, right?

A few years ago, an armed assailant got the jump on four police officers. Who were armed. And MAYBE managed to hit him once before he ran off. You can only react so fast. You’d have to be actively looking for trouble, but even then, having more guns on the scene is not a good thing.

During the Gabrielle Giffords shooting last year, multiple civilians had firearms on the scene. It didn’t stop the shooter, and one of the supposed heroes almost got shot himself. Joe Zamudio rushed someone else that had already disarmed the shooter… and nearly killed the wrong man. By Zamudio’s own admission, it was a stroke of pure luck that kept him from executing an innocent bystander. A lot of people made a big deal that Zamudio had a gun and he helped stop the shooter. True, he did, but he didn’t use his gun. The gun had no direct impact on his actions. In fact, the gun just made him more confident he would be safe and he wasn’t shot at. In the end, it wasn’t the firearms that helped stop the shooter. It was sheer guts and courage. The gun almost resulted in MORE death.

Let me put it another way. This is a loaded example, but follow me on this. When we developed nuclear weapons, we didn’t say that every country should have them. We still don’t think some countries should even THINK of developing them. We didn’t go out and give everyone the plans to make sure we could police each other. I don’t think ANYONE thinks giving North Korea or Iran is the best way to make sure we’re safe. A nuclear weapon is designed to kill. A gun is designed to kill. I don’t see a huge difference in why we want to limit one but not the other.


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“Banning guns will just keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.”

First of all, I’m not saying we should ban guns. I’d just like to know that people with guns are not convicted felons. Take cars, for example. In order to drive, you have take a test, show you are capable of maneuvering a ton of steel of flammable fuel, and get insurance and registration in case anything should happen. Last year, we had 32,000 automotive fatalities in this country. Compare that to roughly the same number of gun-related deaths in the same time period. How much lower could that second number be if we actually forced people to receive proper training and get licensed?

When people died in car accidents, someone realized we could build a strap to help keep people from flying out the window. Then someone came up with the air bag. Then someone thought about including crumple zones and all manner of technology. Now, we can’t legally text and drive. With cars, we’ve made the machine safer and instituted penalties for reckless usage.

It’s not like we say we need more drivers on the road to corral bad drivers if they get out of hand. We don’t ask soccer moms in SUVs to push drink drivers to the side of the road. Why are we asking everyone else to be cowboys when it comes to guns?

“We need to trust our citizenry to get trained and be responsible. It’s up to the individual to make these choices.”

The right to own a gun is not the same as magically acquiring responsibility, much like turning 21 doesn’t automatically mean you know how to drink responsibly. It’s the reason we don’t allow things like drunk driving and go after drunk drivers HARD. We’ve shown time and time again that left to their own choices, people are outright stupid. I’m not advocating government control of our lives. I don’t think Big Brother should be monitoring our love lives, our search history, or whether or not we just mouth the pledge of allegiance. I don’t think the government should have a hand in every business…

But I also think we need monitoring and regulatory agencies to make sure companies don’t dump poisons into the air and water and pay fair wages while not abusing employees.

There’s a reason we enacted these laws, and yet when it comes to technology that allows one person to shoot one hundred people in a crowded theater, we don’t bat an eyelid. We just say, “Oh, the people who were shot should have brought guns too.”

“Americans don’t want more gun control!”

Liar, liar.

Yes, America wants more gun control and restrictions. The NRA is the one that wields a megaphone, but being loud and being right are not the same thing. This isn’t an appeal to the masses, either. If the question comes down to a vote, the majority wins and we get more gun control.


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“Even if we change the laws, we can’t round up all the guns out there. It would be impossible.”

Correct.

There are a lot of guns out there. There are people who have purchased extended magazines for pistols. There are people that bought assault weapons. There are collectors who have a dozen or more guns in their homes. They bought all these things legally.

Changing the law won’t mean they have to give them back if we word this right. The easiest thing would be to outlaw the sale of certain magazines and weapons after a certain date. Those bought before that date would still be legal, but perhaps restricted. Possibly transporting them or re-selling them would be an issue, but the point is to not keep making the same mistake just because we can’t undo the past.

This is like saying, “Well, we can’t pay back all these people for slavery, so why get rid of slavery?”

Small changes add up.

“Gun control is not the issue. We need to address drug regulation/ fear/ mental health/ etc.”

Banning certain types of firearms or making it difficult for someone to stock up on 6,000 rounds of ammo and enough guns to take on a Terminator may not stop the whackos, the lunatics, the crazies, and the criminals from finding them through less legal means… but it will certainly stop other, less-determined idiots.

Yes, we should address the root causes of this violence, but in the meantime, we can make it harder for one lunatic to wipe out a room full of people in ten seconds. It’s like saying we shouldn’t focus on AIDS treatments since we should be looking for a cure.

“The Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms. How dare we interfere with this fundamental right?”

Because, as we all know, the US Constitution is unchangeable and sacrosanct… except for all the changes we’ve made over the years.

I’m always dumbstruck by people who fall back on the argument that the Founders did this and the Constitution says this so it must be right. Why? What made the Founders these pillars of wisdom and common sense? They had some wonderful ideas, but they were a very diverse lot. Some wanted more state’s rights. Others thought the federal government should have final control over the states. Others thought only white men should vote.

Looking back at the fact that Americans in the 1770’s could own flintlocks and using that as the basis for allowing every citizen to buy assault weapons, extended magazines, or who knows what else misses the point. We’re all adults. We can ask if freedom of expression should protect people who yell “Fire” in a crowded theater.

That means we can also ask if we should allow everyday citizens to purchase weapons that can empty a thirty-plus round magazine in two seconds. I seriously doubt deer have equivalent firepower.

And, on another, note, people like the gentleman in this article that says he would feel naked without his ammo and guns scare me. They’re basically saying that they feel wrong about something, so it must be true. That’s not an argument. That’s an opinion. Give me facts, damn it!


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Conclusion

Look, Obama is not coming for our guns. The United Nations is not going to ban firearms. Hunting will still be allowed. I and people like me want background checks. We want a red flag to go up whenever someone buys thousands of rounds of ammo. At the very least, we’d like to know the people who purchase and own a handgun are competent, well-trained individuals who can be punished for misusing their newfound power.

In the end, though, this debate comes down to fear. The NRA and extreme gun-nuts are afraid they won’t have their dick-extenders to hold on to while they watch Fox.

Oh, I’m sorry. Did I say that out loud?


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