Another high-profile violent act, this time in Aurora, Colorado. Again a firearm was used to shoot people… this time killing 12 and wounding 58 others. Dozens of Americans were caught in a very vulnerable situation and suffered for it. Dozens of lives changed that night. Forever.
Once again our country is engaging in a discussion about the steps needed to fix this condition once and for all. Those items on the table: Gun regulation, gun possession, the NRA, the need for more laws, the need for more guns or the need for less gun regulation. No one will win the argument, but that won’t stop them from trying…again. Additionally it’s not a question of IF Federal and State legislators will draft new laws based on the Aurora tragedy, but WHEN.
Zealots are engaged on both sides of the argument: half say more Americans should arm themselves. The other half say a gun ban is needed. Who is right? Neither. It’s a sad commentary on our country when within hours after a tragedy, there has to be an argument over who is right and who is wrong. This shooting was a horrific event committed by a person who in my opinion, so obviously suffers from some mental illness or disorder. He’s not just some jerk who had nothing better to do. The issue here is mental illness.
Let’s briefly look at both sides of the argument, just to say we did:
Argument 1: More “law abiding” (favorite term used by the NRA) citizens need to arm themselves. More armed citizens will mean less violent attacks on innocent people. How it works is this: A high percentage of average citizens carry concealed weapons and when a mad gunman enters the room, he is gunned-down by these armed citizens. Then, the news spreads to other would-be mad gunmen and they rethink their plots to kill others because of the heightened risk of a counter attack. The result: Less attacks, more peace on earth. The only two faults with this idea are (1) average citizens need to somehow react defensively with fine motor skill precision, rather than being scared to death, and (2) Criminals, some of which are mentally ill or suffer from a personality disorder, will have to re-prioritize their lives and begin to seek a future on earth that does not include hurting others…based on the threat they face. (Note: James Holmes, the Aurora shooter was a law abiding citizen, until the theater shooting)
Argument 2: A ban on assault weapons will reduce the magnitude of these attacks in the future. This one is tricky because for the purpose of this article I have to assume those in favor of this plan not only want to ban the sale and possession of these weapons by ordinary citizens beginning today, but also collect the ones already in the hands of Americans. Including criminals. This plan is very complicated so I need
more space to work through it. Here it goes:
Step One: Create strict laws prohibiting the manufacture, sale and possession of assault weapons and magazines (the kind that hold bullets). We need to exempt law enforcement and the military of course. The government would need to specify the number of rounds a gun can legally hold in the magazine. I would guess three in the mag and one in the chamber would be a good place to start. Enact the legislation both on the state and federal level and make the penalties stiff. Begin to enforce the new laws. The result: thousands of law-abiding citizens will surrender their guns. Next, destroy those guns. Time investment: one to two years.
Step Two: Double the size and budget of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) or in the alternative, rebuild and repurpose the ATF as the primary enforcement agency of the new laws. Partner them with state and local authorities and fund joint task forces with federal dollars. The federal government should initiate an assault weapons eradication hiring grant whereby they fund the hiring of 50,000 to 100,000 state, county and municipal law enforcement officers. These officers must be dedicated to firearms enforcement. Task the ATF and local task forces with identifying, arresting and prosecuting those illegally possessing assault weapons. The focus will be on the typical criminal element as well as survivalists, second amendment fundamentalists, NRA members etc. The result: Thousands of firearms will be seized and thousands of people arrested and prosecuted. Destroy those firearms. Sanction the violators, enough to make an example of them without filling up the prison system. Time investment: Five years.
Step Three: Continue to respond to firearm related attacks on American citizens and wonder (1) why the ban didn’t work, or (2) what could be banned next. Time investment: on-going.
Ok I admit, it’s hard to be totally serious about either plan because both are so fundamentally flawed. Americans do have a love affair with their firearms, but they also have the ingenuity and resourcefulness to find a hundred other ways to kill each other. Humans were in fact, killing each other before firearms and some of the biggest massacres on record came before guns. Albert Einstein reportedly once stated: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Man may have an obsession with weaponry and therefore possibly an obsession with risking his own demise.
To the most extreme pro-gun people: You’re wrong.
To the most extreme anti-gun people: You’re wrong.
A note to state and federal legislators: Do the country a favor – do not attempt to bring forward new laws based on emotions or unrealistic plots to save man from himself. Honor the families of Aurora and similar attacks by letting them be the victims and letting the assailant be the bad guy. Do not make laws simply because your constituents are hurting or the NRA is bullying you. This is not about you.
A note to the public: Be aware of your surroundings. Live your lives. Prepare yourself mentally for the slight chance you will be in a scenario such as a violent attack. If that means you carry a concealed pistol, fine. If not, prepare to take cover.
The most extreme of both sides of the argument will only accomplish one thing: it will keep us from finding the solution. Zealots never helped anybody.