Saturday, July 21, 2012

Two points to be made about the tragedy in Aurora, CO...

We Need To Ban Semi-Automatic Weapons Now...

Two points to be made about the tragedy in Aurora, CO...

 1) As the Nation tries to unravel just what happened in Aurora, CO Friday night, there's been reports of a massive arsenal of weaponry and ammunition the suspect, James Holmes allegedly had. The AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, pictured above, was designed for military grade use. It wasn't designed for hunting, sport shooting or home protection. More about this in a bit. 

 I've heard an ABC News reporter, Brian Ross, claim Holmes was affiliated with the Tea Party, which was later retracted. I don't personally know if he ascribed to the Tea Party platform or not. It doesn't matter to me. The Tea Party supports smaller Government, not shooting innocent people in a movie theater. Any suggestion that they might have been a factor in this crime is asinine. 

 One way or the other, Mr. Holmes is severely mentally disturbed. As much as I disagree with the Tea Party folks, I can't support the idea that because of some alleged association or admiration, this guy basically launched an all out attack on the captive patrons in a movie theater Friday night.  Until I see some evidence that there's a direct conspiracy of sorts, any suggestion that what happened that evening is related to those voices from the Right is dubious, to say the least. 

 While I default to what is usually a moderate position on most issues, I can't in good conscious aim for a mid-point where some unfair criticism of any group or persons is ok. It's wrong. And while it would be a helluva story to discover that some vast complicated plan had been hatched by some politically driven party or interest group, unless there's some good hard evidence available-which there isn't-this sort of talk and "what-if" fantasizing is dangerous and immoral. 

2) I'm not a gun owner. I've fired a weapon a few times and generally, didn't enjoy it. I do not hunt. I do not target shoot. I don't do anything with guns at all. I also don't generally believe that guns kill people. I think people kill people in terrible ways sometimes. To those who think that we ought to remove guns from our society because of gun deaths, I'd ask are they prepared to remove knives, as well? 

 While firearms account for about 43% of deaths by weapons, knives account for 30% of those deaths. There's no serious support for a "get rid of knives because they're dangerous" campaign, is there? Of course not. And there won't be, any time soon. These cases of murder are mostly the result of criminal acts or accidents. The appetite for guns in the United States is well known and long-established. Neither political party shows any interest in making gun control a campaign issue for obvious reasons. The Second Amendment of the Constitution is pretty safe, despite what some voices on the right fear is a diabolical plot by President Obama and the United Nations to take our guns in a second term. 

 We could certainly, reduce the number of firearms in the Country if we wanted to. Other Countries around the world have much tougher laws regarding guns and also possess lower fatality rates related to guns. Those Countries have made a priority of this issue and we have not. I have great doubt we ever will. No matter how many people are gunned down each year, no matter how many children are shot, no matter what, etc. Until we decide that's a change we want, it won't happen. 

 That said, I do think semi automatic weapons should be banned outright. There are classes of weaponry that are deemed legitimate for hunting and target shooting lovers, as well as a wide group of guns that are made for defensive purposes. Those products should be left available, with proper credentials/background checks, etc., to the general public. 

 The weapons made for more military purposes should be banned from purchase in the United States. Period. I am not sympathetic to those gun rights advocates who claim we have the right to arm ourselves anyway we see fit. Society should not have to suffer consequences of this level when a vendor or gunshop doesn't (or can't) uncover a hidden reason why an individual should not be allowed to buy a gun of this magnitude. The scope of the damage is so large, so widespread that society should be able to protect itself by placing limits on how powerful a weapon the average Joe Blow can get his hands on. 

 The argument that if we ban these weapons, criminals will find a way around the laws and obtain them anyway isn't without merit. Some determined people will press on and find a way to purchase them illegally without regard to the laws. However, some will be deterred. I've yet to read any suggestion that Holmes acquired these weapons illegally. That may change, but for now, if he'd not been able to buy a weapon like the AR-15, not to mention the massive amount of ammunition he had as well as the tear gas, his attack on the theater may still have happened. People still would've likely died. But I think the victims would have been fewer. Lives would've been saved. 

 We can and should continue the discussion about firearms in our Country and what their appropriate place should be. We should also continue to fund aggressively mental health treatment across the US with the hope that a larger program may prevent more incidents like this one. Gun right's groups like the NRA should be more aggressive with reasonable gun law reform measures. Any proposed reform or tightening of gun laws in general isn't necessarily an attack on anyone's Constitutional rights. Its just not. 

 If the only two positions we can hold are:

A) Ban all guns...
B) Any additional gun laws are a threat to our 2nd Amendment Rights...

...we won't get where we need to be. We need an adult conversation...a reasonable make meaningful and fair minded changes to how guns and weapons are purchased in this Country. 


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