Saturday, July 21, 2012

How many?

Warhol gunHow many times am I going to have to write about this? I wrote about it after the shooting in Arizona when Congresswoman Giffords was shot. I wrote about it when Trayvon Martin was shot. And here I am writing about it again.

At first, I thought perhaps a little time was warranted...that I’d write about it next week. Then I read this excellent piece by E.J. Dionne, in which he says that discussing our strange obsession with guns and implementing reasonable gun laws isn’t any sort of exploitation of the tragedy (as the NRA likes to howl). It is recognizing a major problem in our country and wanting to do something about it. It is understanding that because of our lax gun laws, people who shouldn’t be are able to easily obtain guns. Even assault weapons designed to kill large numbers of people, and mass quantities of ammunition and high capacity clips so that as many as possible can be killed before having to reload. It is saying that any reasonable person thinks this is UNreasonable and wants to see at least an attempt to stop these sorts of massacres. Questioning our gun laws is a sane response to an insane situation. Continuing to insist on the ability of everyone to purchase whatever type of gun they want and whatever large quantities of ammunition they want is NOT a sane response.

I really don’t know how many times I can write about our bizarre gun worship in this country. I saw the usual tired responses yesterday...that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. That if everyone in that theater had been armed, the guy wouldn’t have gotten away with it. Let’s look at both of those for a moment, shall we?

Yes, the person who killed 12 people and wounded 58 was a human being. He was the one who pulled the trigger. However, you don’t see 70 casualties brought about by one person wielding a knife or throwing rocks. This is a ridiculous argument, because semi-automatic weapons are designed to rapidly fire numerous bullets, and injure as many people as possible. A madman coming in there with a knife would have been immediately taken down by several patrons after assaulting one person. Hell, I would have piled on. Instead, he was able to assault 70. SEVENTY.

The argument that if people in the audience had been carrying he wouldn't have been able to get away with it doesn’t hold up, either. The guy was in full body armor. Someone’s little .22 or .38 wouldn’t have stopped him for a second, and even a .45 wouldn’t have stopped him for long. He was on a mission. It was probably not great lighting in there; there was tear gas; there was chaos. Does anyone really think that some person could have stood up in the confusion and managed to take this guy out? It’s probably more likely that anyone trying to fire at the shooter would have only ended up injuring or killing even more innocent people. As some of us were discussing yesterday, the average person—even if well-versed in gun usage—is not trained for that sort of extreme situation; police officers, SWAT teams, and other law enforcement officials undergo extensive training in order to handle such situations. We need to get away from the mentality that simply carrying a gun and knowing how to shoot it makes us invincible, or some kind of hero who will know exactly how to react in very extreme circumstances. It defies logic.

Some family members might say that my feelings about this are making my Dad roll over in his grave. Well, that’s obviously not literally happening. But I really don’t think he would be all that upset at what I have to say. I think we’d have a good discussion about it, and I think he’d probably understand my viewpoint. I know he’d be proud of me for thinking for myself, rather than accepting that this is the way it has to be in our country. I think he’d be appalled that this person was able to walk into a packed theater and assault 70 people, and I think I’d get him to grudgingly admit that this person should not have been able to buy a gun.

I’d advocate for everyone wanting to buy a gun having to undergo a psychological evaluation. I know that’s not going to happen, but simple background checks don’t seem to be cutting the mustard, do they? I also know that we aren’t going to ban handguns anytime soon, if ever, and we certainly aren’t going to ban hunting rifles. But wouldn’t it be a good start to restore the ban on assault weapons and high capacity clips? I think so. So I started that petition at the White House website in the link right there. Please think about it and consider signing it, and if you agree, please share it with your friends and family. If we get 150 signatures, it will move to public viewing, so that people all across the country can see it; if we get 25,000 signatures in 30 days, it will be considered by the administration. It might not come to anything...but shouldn’t we at least TRY?

I asked how many blog entries I need to write about this. That’s really not that big of a deal...I’ll write blog entries all the livelong day about it. A better question is how many massacres like this latest do we need to see before we do something to attempt to curb them? An even better question is how many innocent people do we need to see gunned down in cold blood, in the prime of life (some before their life has truly begun, as we learned today that a 6-year-old girl is among the dead), before we say enough is enough? How many?


  1. I agree with you, Beth. 100%.

  2. Here, here. I think there need to be limits. Certain types of guns and ammunition -- the kind that are designed to take down as many people as possible without having to re-load -- should be limited to military and police use. Otherwise, all it takes is one nutjob to wipe out scores of innocent people. And how is it "exploitative" to raise this topic after yet another nutjob goes on a rampage? What are we supposed to do, wait for more innocent lives to be lost?

  3. When someone buys 6000 rounds of ammunition, his intentions are clear. Why isn't that in a database somewhere setting off alarms to the proper authorities???

  4. While I agree with your post, I disagree with Taryterre and her thinking that a data base would be appropriate. I still think that would involve a violation of individual rights. Still, the permissiveness that we allow people to purchase weapons (which are different than guns) is beyond insane. There is no reasonable explanation for automatic assault rifles other than to injure and kill as many people as possible.

  5. mark, i hate to break the news to you, but anytime you buy something and use a debit card, credit card or a store discount card, your purchases are tracked. if you but something online, especially ammunition, your purchase is tracked. odds are that someone somewhere knew that the shooter was building an arsenal but since he didn't fit a known profile for a terrorist based on stereotypes created after 9-11, he continued to fly right under the radar.

    personally i am all for giving up some of my individual rights to own an assault weapon for the betterment of the populace as a whole.


  6. We need some regulation, period...


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