In case you've been living under a rock for the last 48 hours, you've heard of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado at The Dark Knight Rises premier, in which James Holmes killed 12 and injured 58. And of course, in times like these people grasp at who or what is to blame. Of course, in the immediate minutes after the attack there was no lack of people blaming Islamic militants. You could be Louie Gohmert, who claims that this shooting was due to the fact that we no longer have mandatory prayer in school and other signs of a growing secular culture
. There are those that think that the comic book movies themselves caused this neuroscience student to shoot people
Then there are the people that worry about exactly the wrong thing after a tragedy like this:
Personally, I'm not going to speculate about why this person did what he did. Nor am I going to give a rat's ass about whether or not this will affect ticket sales of a movie that will still set box office records. What I will comment on is a lesson we should learn from this, and it's a lesson we should have learned before, time and again.
In the last two decades, mass shootings seem to have become an epidemic, and it's only gotten worse, especially in the last few years. We look at these shootings: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Congresswoman Giffords, and now Aurora, Colorado - and we see tragedy. And we should. These are tragedies. But we cry about it for a few days, then apparently forget, the news of dozens dead overshadowed by a celebrity overdose or an sports team underdog making a spectacular win. It's a tragedy, but what are we supposed to do about it? So we move on.
What's completely overlooked is the fact that these crimes were committed by completely legal firearms. In this latest shooting, Holmes used this gun, the AR-15, the civilian version of the military's M-16, which can carry 100 rounds.
And the question we should be asking ourselves instead of why he did it is how it was perfectly legal for him to own this gun. Holmes walked into that theater wearing perfectly legal full-body bulletproof armor, carrying four legally purchased handguns and armed with six thousand rounds of ammo purchased legally online.
What does this AR-15 from Aurora, the extended clip from Arizona, the two semi-automatics in Virginia Tech... what do all of these have in common? They were all legally purchased after the Federal Assault Weapons Ban lapsed in 2004. What else do they all have in common? There is no reason for one person to own these things unless their intent is to shoot as many people as possible as quickly as possible.
You don't use an AR-15 with 100 rounds to shoot deer. You don't need 30 rounds in your 9mm for home defense. And because of Virginia's adamant pro-gun lobby, there was a giant gap between their laws and federal laws mandating that people like the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, from buying guns after being deemed violently mentally ill.
People are crying out that our time of mourning is not a time of politics. But it's only a few days later and we're already forgetting about this incident. The time for pointing out that there is no reason for guns of this type to be legally sold - used for hurting people and nothing else - is now.
One hundred thousand people in America are shot every year. Three people are killed every HOUR. Since Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968, over one million Americans have been killed by gunfire.