Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thinking about the Aurora shooting

After waking to the radio alarm Friday morning and groggily hearing about “another shooting”, I was a little apathetic but also had that pang of sorrow for innocent lives lost at the hands of a another crazed gunman. Not catching the full story of the tragedy, it was after coming down for breakfast that my wife mentioned the shooting was in Denver. Before heading out the door I took a few minutes to quickly skim the headlines to learn a few reported details about the incident which had struck Aurora Colorado, right on the heels of the wildfire tragedies in Colorado Springs.
I do not want to distract or reduce the attention that should be paid to the victims and families of this heinous crime—everyone should be given their time to grieve and heal.
For disclosure: I am a member of a local Izaak Walton “gun club” and go target shooting with my friends and family on a semi-regular basis. I own a number of firearms including a Winchester shotgun and a Glock semiautomatic pistol (G20) supposedly similar to those used in the shooting. A number of my friends hold concealed carry permits (CCWs), I even had one myself in the past, and I am now considering a renewal. I am a firm (but not very vocal) believer in the “individual” 2nd amendment to our constitution.
After an initial sharing of sorrow with a few friends at the office, the discussion inevitably turned to speculation that one concealed carry movie-goer may have been able to lessen this tragedy—and apparently we were not the only ones thinking that [1]. Since politics are not a shy subject at work either, the discussion also edged toward how this incident would likely be jumped on by the gun-control lobby as one more piece of evidence for regulation. After hearing that evening that the discussions had already heated up on the radio waves and that the theater at which this shooting occurred my have had carry restrictions, I figured it was time to do some “internet fact checking” myself.
So my understanding is that the Century 16 operated by Cinemark Century Theaters, does seem to have an unpublished “gun-free” policy [2[3]. To me this seems to indicate why there were no “return shots” fired. I do not claim that things would have turned out better had this policy not been in place, merely speculated on what I would have or could have done had I been there with my family or friends. What would you have done? Would any of the victims’ families wished that this 71yr old Florida man was there?
What we all should keep in mind is that focusing our laws on an inanimate object will not prevent this from happening, just like making drugs illegal does not stop the use. And I feel the exploitation of emotion around this event is sickening.
Congress should “prevent future tragedies” and pass stricter gun control laws in response to the movie theater shooting, Dan Gross [4], head of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement. The Washington-based group describes itself as the country’s largest pro-gun-control lobby. [5] [6]
The folks over at the Brady Campaign feel that:
This is yet another horrific reminder that guns enable mass killings [7]
Look—I understand the position of the Brady Campaign folks. I also understand the position of the NRA (I am a lifetime member). But this kind of non-discussion, sound-bite oriented back-and-forth will not bring back the victims of this shooting. New limitations will not stop crime, it will not prevent people from dying, and it will most certainly not prevent suffering. As much as people would like to live in a perfect utopian society, history has taught us otherwise. Though the feel-good, knee-jerk reaction to “join together in calling for restrictions on the sale and possession of deadly weapons” [8] may make people feel safer, it is an illusion. I can guess at the consequences of limiting or revoking the rights of legally abiding citizens to protect themselves: it is not good for the citizen, it is not good for the moral framework of this country, and it is not going to keep a deranged, mis-guided individual from committing a crime. It displaces the problem from a person to an object—it is a lot easier to hate an object than it is to hate a person. Remember, the crime of murder is already illegal. The crime of assault with a deadly weapon is already illegal. And unfortunately a deadly weapon can be a car [9], a bat [10], or a spatula [11]. Granted, the ability of some to murder on a greater scale is exacerbated by the use of modern firearms, but that genie has been out of the bottle for a very long time [12]. AND this should not be a question about the method, but about the motive. Remove the motive and the crime will not be committed. 

Please, let us first help comfort those that are suffering from this tragedy. If you know someone who is impacted, give them your support—I know how this can help [13].
Then, if we must, let us discuss changes to “gun laws”, not shout past each other. Do we need to change how we sell firearms, who we sell them to, what is manufactured, what is available? Maybe. What we more likely need to do is look inside ourselves, look at society, and ask why a PhD candidate with no background of violence snapped and decided to shoot up a movie theater killing, wounding, and imposing massive suffering that radiates beyond Aurora. Answer that question and you may be closer to the utopia you dream of—though I doubt it.  
From my view, more government is not an answer it is an aversion.

No comments: