Yesterday after James Holmes murdered 12 and injured dozens more in Aurora, CO, both President Obama and Mitt Romney issued messages of sympathy to the victims’ families and the nation.
Rather than seizing the moment to call for specific actions to keep Americans free from terrorists, Obama’s camp instead took the opportunity to defend the Second Amendment.
Obama spokesman Jay Carney said, “The president believes that we need to take common-sense measures that protect Second Amendment rights of Americans, while ensuring that those who should not have guns under existing law do not get them.”
The problem here is that “under existing law,” James Holmes should have had his guns.
Holmes’ purchase of an AR-15 automatic assault rifle, 6,000 rounds of ammunition, along with a .40 Glock handgun, a .12 gauge shotgun (all of which he used in the movie theater) along with bullet-proof vest, helmet, throat and groin protectors, was completely legal under existing law.
“All the ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally, all the weapons he possessed, he possessed legally, all the clips he possessed, he possessed legally,” said Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates.
Holmes was not equipped to hunt, or to protect himself. He was equipped for war. And there was nothing in our existing laws preventing this. Holmes had no criminal record. He was not a domestic abuser.
And herein lies the problem, Mr. President: Every psychopath has a moment when he tips—when he commits his first kill. Our existing laws willingly place weapons in the hands of murderers-to-be, and leave the rest of us as sitting ducks as we wait for them to snap.
Gun lovers talk about the Second Amendment as a freedom issue—they want to be free to carry guns. But what about those of us who want to live free from terror, from the knowledge that we might be shot down at any moment by someone legally carrying a concealed weapon who happens to snap in the exact moment our path intersects theirs?
Extreme gun advocates think we should all carry guns all the time, putting our whole culture on the terms of mutually-assured destruction. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) yesterday suggested that the theater would have been a safer place if more people were carrying guns. “With all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?” he asked.
This is insane for a few reasons: 1) The theater was dark, and Holmes standing in front of the first row shooting into the crowd had a much higher chance of hitting people than someone in the crowd trying to get a bead on him, while facing the illuminated screen. 2) More people shooting guns in the theater clearly would have resulted in more accidental deaths. 3) He was wearing military-grade bullet-proof gear. Even an expert marksman in the theater managing to shoot him without taking down anyone else in the process wouldn’t have killed him.
This is where the debate has actually evolved to: Will we be more free by having every citizen armed and ready to defend himself against psychos like Holmes, going to the movies armed in their own bullet-proof vests, helmets and gas masks, assault rifles tucked under their seats?
Gun advocates say, “guns don’t kill people, people do,” well… Guns sure as shit help. The AR-15 Holmes used is made for only thing. And it isn’t hunting. It’s an expedient killing machine. Holmes would have been much less effective if these weapons weren’t easily and legally available for purchase.
ABC reports gun deaths in America are “20 times higher than the next 22 richest nations combined.” We as a people are not crazier and more murderous than anyone else. But our gun laws are much more lax than other countries’. If you willingly put the tools of murder in the hands of a population, some are bound to use them. It couldn’t be more obvious.
Not all freedoms are created equal. You are not free to kill whomever you want. Why do we make it so easy to do so? Existing laws actually enable this crime over the right of the rest of us to live free from terror. This is not only backwards, it’s a travesty.
Which is why I beg you, President Obama: please grow some balls and start advocating gun control. The Second Amendment doesn’t need to make it so easy for the crazies walking among us to decide to kill us.
Image: Obama talking with Aurora mayor Steve Hogan, via Hypervocal.