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:
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?