Guns Don't Kill People, People with Guns Kill People
The Tragedy in Colorado
In the wake of the horrific shooting in Aurora, Colorado where 12 people were killed and over 50 people were injured for the crime of seeing a midnight showing of the new Batman movie, Americans are again discussing gun policy. It seems Americans only discuss gun policy after some horrific shooting occurs and then after a few days go back to talking about what is really important, i.e., American Idol and Snookie. Neither Presidential candidate has spoken about gun control on the campaign trial. When asked about guns, Republican nominee Mitt Romney said single mothers were to blame for much of the gun violence in the United States.
But many conservatives and specifically the National Gun Association take every terrible mass shooting to scream from the rooftops about gun rights and the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution. Already, the Westboro Baptist Church, the God Hates America people, have stated they are going to picket the funerals of those killed in Colorado. One of their local leaders, Margie Phelps, has already sent tweets thanking God for the shooter. Another good conservative, Pastor Rick Warren, has blamed the shooting on the teaching of evolution claiming that "When students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it." Yet another conservative leader, Matt Barber, founder of Liberty Counsel, a non-profit public interest law firm that defends "Christian religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, and the traditional family," blames Planned Parenthood, "turning our back on God" and America's abortion "culture of death" for the theater killings.
Guns Don't Kill People
At the very least the NRA, conservative groups and good hearted gun owners will state that Guns Don't Kill people. And they are right. It is too easy to simply blame guns. The guy who fired an automatic weapon into a crowded movie theatre killed and injured those people. And the criminal justice system should take care of him. He is to blame. He should be held accountable.
But what the NRA and the conservative right seems to ignore is that when these tragic events happen, the person who committed the crime always has a gun. These events hardly ever involve an ax. They hardly ever involve a knife. They hardly ever involve bombs. They almost always involve some high power automatic weapon that most soldiers who love to have with them in a foxhole. While the NRA and these conservative leaders should not be blamed for acts of madness, they should be held accountable for ensuring that the madness showed up armed.
When evil acts like the one committed in Colorado occur pundits of every type try to point and blame. Conservatives blame liberals, liberals blame conservatives. In the end, no one is held accountable except in some instances the person who actually committed the act. That is good. But what about the culture that allows someone to get his hands on a weapon that should only be used in war? Until the moment the shooter in Colorado pulled the trigger, most likely, no crime had been committed. And who is to blame for the mindset that led to the killings?
Rush Limbaugh claimed the new Batman film The Dark Knight Rises is anti-Romney propaganda masterminded by the President Obama and the liberal media. In short, Limbaugh claimed that the villain in the movie was a mockery of Mitt Romney. Nobody can blame Rush for the shooting. But Limbaugh and other conservative pundits, religious leaders and even political leaders often make outlandish accusations about conspiracy theories. Despite what they say, none of these people want to be held accountable for the fact that many of their listeners might actually believe what they say thus creating a culture where people believe that everything that the current administration is doing is an attack on their way of life. After all, Michele Bachmann is currently alleging that anyone with a tan that works is government is part of a conspiracy by the Muslin Brotherhood to infiltrate the United States.
And the shooter in Colorado didn't have to work very hard to get his arsenal. He bought the guns at local gun stores. He bought much of the ammunition on the internet. Nothing that he did before shooting up a movie theatre was illegal.
The point of this is that in recent years those who have committed these egregious acts have been right wing people doing so to save their country. From the Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, the Holocaust Museum, these are not liberals committing these acts. It is good god fearing people taking the law into their hands to defend against the attack on their country and way of life that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity told them about. At some point, everyone needs to be held accountable for the culture they create.
So what is the answer?
The 2nd Amendment exists. Can't deny it and can't get around it. Until such time as Americans decide that the 2nd Amendment is no longer viable, it governs gun policy in this Country. And it should. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights is the framework of a society that values freedom even if at a cost. When the Constitution was adopted the 2nd Amendment was a necessary right to ensure that the militia was armed in case of invasion, to sustain a society that relied on hunting and to protect against government overreach. But if the Founding Founders knew about the technological advances where guns could kill and injure over 70 people in the matter of seconds, would they still have the same thoughts? And to remind the NRA, the word "regulated" also exists in the 2nd Amendment. Even the Founding Father wanted some form of regulation of gun rights. If the NRA is going to claim the Constitution as the basis of its argument, the least it can do is read the document.
The answer of what role guns play in our society is not easy. There are good law abiding citizens who have guns that should not have their rights infringed upon. They are hunters and people who want to protect their homes and families. But people with guns kill other people. Plain and simple. Yes, not everyone with a gun kills people. But when a large number of people are killed in a theater, a mall, or on a school campus, it is always with guns. As a society, the United States really needs to debate whether unfettered access to military style weapons is truly best
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