I haven’t had a chance to write anything about the Aurora theater attack last Friday, but have had several thoughts running around in my mind that I have to let out.
Whenever the question of gun control comes up, opponents argue that there shouldn’t be any restrictions placed on our Second Amendment rights. This strikes me as odd because I’ve had a good career in broadcasting thanks to the First Amendment, and there are plenty of restrictions placed on the rights it guarantees. There are words I’m prohibited from saying on radio and television. There are slander and libel laws that limit what I can say about you, your family, your company, etc. You can be thrown in jail for saying the wrong thing to a judge or at the airport. The “right of the people peaceably to assemble” is limited often, ostensibly for “security purposes,” such as next month in Tampa at the Republican National Convention, when protesters will only be allowed to gather in certain spots at certain times for a certain duration — rules designed to keep them out of the range of TV cameras and convention attendees, regardless of what the First Amendment says.
Another argument made by gun-rights extremists is that they have to arm themselves to the teeth so they can fight off a tyrannical government when it turns against its citizens. To my knowledge, the only time that’s worked in American history was around 1776, when the weapons choices for both government and citizenry were limited to muskets. Firearms and munitions have come a long way since then, but no citizen group could possibly stand up to what the government now has — unless the home stockpile happens to include tanks, fighter planes, and those newfangled drones. You think your rifles are going to keep the US government at bay? Forget about Ruby Ridge and Waco. Were you not watching during the early days of the Iraq war? I’m not talking about the wasted years since then, but the “shock and awe” phase that obliterated entire blocks at a time.
If you want to have a gun in the house because you think it’ll help you defend against a burglar, well, fine, although I doubt you have the skills to use it under stress and hit your target as if you were any number of can’t-miss-movie-heroes. But don’t tell me you need a dozen guns, including automatic or assault weapons, and thousands of rounds of ammunition — especially when you don’t even lock your front door at night!
Will more gun laws keep insane people from acting out whatever violent fantasies are running around in their heads? No, particularly those whose insanity has yet to cross paths with The System via mental health professionals or the courts. Is there any way to guarantee that no one ever gets their hands on a gun they’ll use to kill innocent people? No.
But it would help if much of the nation would stop being gripped by fear and the lies being peddled to them by the NRA and the firearms industry. They’ve been fed a line of crap about Obama’s secret plan to take away their guns, so they’ve gone out and bought more. They watch their local newscasts and see random shootings taking place in a nearby community and vow they’ll never be a victim because they have a concealed-carry permit and a handgun in their purse — until they accidentally kill a family member after too many beers or because the meatloaf was cold.
Meanwhile, there’s no useful discussion of the topic by any of our leaders, particularly in an election year. Last Friday may not have been the right time to talk about America’s sick gun culture, but the respectful silence should not last until the next time tragedy strikes.
One last note to the media and politicians and local law enforcement: anytime anyone shoots several dozen people anywhere, that’s terrorism, even if their skin isn’t brown.