Legal Guns and a Massacre

In the wake of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre and other tragedies, terms such as "Hoplophobia" must be abandoned.

James Holmes, who committed the , Colo. July 20, was a white male 24-year-old Ph.D. candidate who had no arrest record whatsoever except one speeding ticket. He bought four guns, including three subsequently known to have been used to kill 12 people and wound 41 more (the toll as of this writing). One of the wounded was a three-month-old girl who happily survived. The number of casualties makes the incident the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. One of the guns was an assault rifle, another a shotgun, and a third a .40 caliber handgun--all used in the massacre. Holmes was an ideal candidate to be granted permission to buy a gun and in fact, his purchases were made legally at local gun shops. But why would a man who is not bent on evil want to possess an assault rifle? Surely not for self defense, surely not to merely exercise his rights under the 2nd Amendment.

My horror at these shootings is immense. All those pro-gun advocates in our community who assailed my column  must be aware of the irony. Holmes might have been, so far it appears, a law-abiding citizen of the kind they approved.

Yes, guns don’t kill, but James Holmes used them to do so. Perhaps it is true that he might have been able to buy the guns illegally, but if he did the police might have investigated and found Holmes and his stash long before he had the opportunity to use them the way he did. Does anyone really think that “in order to form a militia” James Holmes should have been granted a permit?

I quote from a response to a story on the killings in Aurora that appeared on CNN:

"MB, Tuscon

Bottom line, this is all about money and profit not about the second amendment. The NRA is a lobby group for...a profitable weapons industry in the US. Not only selling their goods here but worldwide. The US has become the largest exporter of terror to the world followed only by Russia and China. The US congress is totally bought and paid for by this industry. Makes the old tobacco lobby look like girl scouts."

I can only add that if state militias are made up of gun nuts such as Holmes, I definitely don’t want them in our communities on safety grounds. It is, perhaps, necessary for the local police to be armed--although in Britain the beat patrolman rarely carries a gun, and their murder rate is considerably below ours. Police at least are generally speaking disciplined professionals who have considerable training in the use of arms when it is appropriate to fire. They too make mistakes but at least the pressure on them is not to do so. Militia rarely have equivalent training.

”Hoplophobia,” that made-up NRA word, is used by the NRA and its sympathizers to characterize anti-gun people as suffering from irrational fear of guns. It must be abandoned after Aurora, after Columbine, the Syrian uprising, the war in Iraq and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Guns are machines designed to kill. They serve whoever points them. They often go off by accident, killing children. Their dissemination to large numbers of our population has not made us safer; it has made us more unsafe.

One more word about . Despite the argument that the widespread ownership of private guns helps the safety of our citizens, not one shot was fired at James Holmes during his attack on the theater patrons. For that we should be thankful. Can you imagine how many more casualties there would have been if ordinary citizens had returned fire in a crowded theater already filled by tear gas?

Arthur Joel Katz July 27, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Andy, as John McEnroe used to say, you can't be serious. Why on God's earth would anybody need an assault rifle to protect himself unless he believes he is in Indian country and is going to help Custer out?
Andrew Wilt July 27, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Many people purchase large automobiles, including SUVs, because they are big and heavy and offer more protection than cars. These same safety conscious people are probably rarely involved in serious accidents yet they purchase those vehicles to feel safe anyway. Many millions of people purchase insurance of all kinds and their premiums never pay off (except to the insurance companies), yet year after year they continue to pay their premiums. All these things are done "just in case". Does is matter the motivation?
Eric W July 27, 2012 at 02:47 PM
I think the issue with guns is that they are DESIGNED to hurt people, as opposed to DESIGNED to protect people, in the minds of short-sighted supposedly liberal thinkers. [aside: Why is it that liberals (Origin: 1325–75; Middle English < Latin līberālis of freedom, befitting the free, equivalent to līber free + -ālis -al) want to take away rights and freedoms?] Cars are DESIGNED to help people and DESIGNED to protect people a little bit, but there were 32,885 traffic deaths in 2010. So we can feel better about cars because they aren't MEANT to hurt, and feelings are more important than facts. Drones are DESIGNED to hurt people. How many has Obama killed with drones? Based on extensive research, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that between 391 – 780 civilians were killed out of a total of between 1,658 and 2,597 [since 2004 in Pakistan, I think] and that 160 children are reported among the deaths. The Bureau also revealed that since President Obama took office at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners, tactics that have been condemned by legal experts. [Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_attacks_in_Pakistan] So we have a serial murderer on the loose, and he's running for re-election? Where's the outrage?
Arthur Joel Katz July 27, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Andy, it is hard to believe that you are that dense. Eric W. I did not write a defense of drones, although it beats me why you would prefer the death of American airmen to the use of drones. And, are guns not designed to kill people, never mind the mindset of liberals or conservatives, both of whom have been known to oppose guns?
Micky August 12, 2012 at 02:41 PM
....yeah, that's not going to happen.


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