You could be next. Just remember that. You could be next.
This is the reality we all ought to face when we talk about the issue of gun control, in light of the tragic events that took place recently in Colorado. The facts are these: 58 people were wounded and 12 people were killed in the attack. The shooter was carrying 3 weapons: an AR-15 Assault Rifle, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, and a .40 Glock handgun. He was also armored with a ballistic helmet, a gas mask, ballistic gloves, a bullet resistant tactical vest and leggings, as well as throat and groin protection.
In other words, this man went about the business of killing with more weapons and armor than U.S. soldiers often have when they’re deployed in battle. It begs several questions: how did a private, non-military citizen get all of this stuff? Why didn’t his acquisitions cause anyone concern? And perhaps most of all, why is it legal to own body armor and an assault weapon?
I don’t know about the first two questions, but I know the answer to the last: it shouldn’t be. No one—no private, non-military citizen—needs to own an assault weapon. Sorry gun nuts. Sorry NRA. Sorry hoarders. No one needs to own an assault weapon. No one.
Let me just address two complete fallacies that I’ve heard in response to this assertion. The first: “well, if someone in the theatre had been carrying a weapon, they could’ve stopped this tragedy from happening.” Really? You really want a bunch of amateur heroes brandishing weapons in a dark, crowded theatre where people are panicking? Plus, I’m not sure if the people making the argument have done any reading, but as I’ve detailed, this man was dressed in full body armor–not only that, he threw a canister of tear gas into the crowd before he started shooting–so, chances are they wouldn’t have stopped him. Worse, once multiple people start shooting, how are our amateur heroes supposed to know the difference between the good guys and the bad guys?
Look, is it possible that a citizen could’ve taken this guy down if they were packing? Sure, but in this specific case it’s unlikely. However, isn’t it also possible that a citizen could’ve ended up shooting innocent people, gotten shot by the police when they arrived, or prompted the shooter to behave even more dangerously? The answer is yes, absolutely. So, in the end, maybe I’m in the minority (I hope not), but it seems to me that taking down an insane shooter, dressed in full body armor and using tear gas, is something the police ought to handle.
The second fallacy is the notion that if we’d denied this person the right to own an assault rifle, he would’ve just figured out some other way to kill people, and, that by banning these weapons, we are only penalizing the people that follow the law. This is just completely ridiculous. First, let’s all agree that guns are designed to kill things; specifically, assault weapons are designed to kill people; lots of them in a short time period. So, yeah, if someone really wants to, they can find a way to kill people with materials or devices that are legal, but wouldn’t it be a good idea to stop them from owning a piece of equipment that is specifically designed for that purpose? Of course it would. I mean, to point out the absurd, someone could use this argument to say, “well, if it wasn’t legal to own a nuclear bomb, they would’ve just figured out some other way to blow up the city of Seattle.”
The other part of the argument gets to exactly that point. Should people be allowed to own nuclear weapons? No, of course not. So the right to bear arms, at some point, is limited. But wouldn’t some people probably like to go out into the desert and blow off the side of a mountain with a nuke? I’m sure there are people who would, but obviously, that is not in the public’s best interests, even if those people followed all the laws, etc.
So why does anyone need to own an assault rifle? You don’t need an assault rifle to hunt, and to be quite honest, you don’t need an assault rifle to defend yourself unless you’re completely delusional, and you think that at some point in your life a hoard of ninjas is going to attack your home. But can’t someone go out into the desert and shoot their assault rifle at targets without hurting anyone? Sure, but at this point, I think it is clear that the benefit that is gained by allowing assault rifles to be legal is far outweighed by the negative consequences of these weapons winding up in the hands of some lunatic, like the one that killed 12 people and injured another 58 in a Colorado movie theatre this past week.
Here’s what I propose: given that this is a federal issue, the federal government should create a department of firearms, with the purpose of regulating guns and licensing their owners. If someone wants to own a gun, they must apply for a license at this agency, stating for what purpose they intend to use the gun, demonstrating that they know how to use a gun and store it safely, as well as undergoing a thorough background check to make sure that they are capable and sane. You should have to present this license before you are allowed to buy a gun, much the same way a person presents their driver’s license before they buy alcohol. Any weapons dealers that don’t take down the name and license number of every person they sell a gun to should be shut down. Any gun ownership without a license is illegal. Finally, no one, unless they register for a special permit, should be allowed to own military style weapons.
This solution would not violate any Second Amendment rights—if you want to own a gun, you can, you just have to get a license for it, just as we require people to have a license to drive a car.
The sick reason that this will never happen, that even Barack Obama and the Democratic Party won’t push for this kind of legislation, is that lobbies like the NRA own our Congress. So, as soon as anyone proposed even this basic, common sense regulation, Republicans would start screaming to every idiot and redneck in the entire country about how the Democrats are going to take away your guns, and the NRA and every Super Pac would amplify the lie with an endless barrage of radio and television advertisements.
This is precisely why Citizen’s United is a horrifying decision, and why it is extremely dangerous to consider money equivalent to speech. The current dynamic of how our government functions, especially as it relates to elections and campaign spending, as well as the insanity of the Republican Party on this and many other issues, is why 12 people were killed by this maniac in Colorado. 12 dead, 58 wounded.
Just remember: you could have been in that theatre. You, a family member, or a close friend, could be dead, because our political system is so broken that we don’t have basic national regulations on firearms. And until we fix this problem, we all better learn to live with the fact that we could be next. You could be next.
PS: If you want to take action on this issue, please sign a petition to ban assault weapons.
Also, if you haven’t added your name to the petition to pass a constitutional amendment stating that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and that Congress should have the right to regulate elections and campaign spending, please visit movetoamend.org to add your voice. Getting money out of our political process may be the single most important issue of our time.