The tragedy of the senseless killings early Friday morning at the Aurora, Colo., screening of the new "Batman" movie is another example of the sick, twisted minds that exist and continue to crop up in the United States.
Once again, however, it has triggered calls for new and more restrictive gun laws from the usual media outlets, editorialists, anti-gun groups, syndicated columnists and special-interest organizations. In most cases, I guess one may logically assume they mean well; however, their tired and ill-advised knee-jerk advice offers no real solutions.
As expected, The New York Times, The Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, The Kansas City Star, New York City's mayor, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and The Huffington Post are but a few of the habitual gun foes chiming in. The Washington Post wrote, "There is no rational basis for allowing ordinary Americans to purchase assault rifles. They're not necessary for hunting, and they're not needed for self-defense."
Others weighed in, including New York Times columnist Gail Collins, who likened gun control advocates with suffragettes' tough road to voting. CNN talk show host Piers Morgan and his predecessor Larry King added to the debate with absurd comments about the ease in the U.S. of purchasing a machine gun. Of course, the National Rifle Association was afforded its customary blame — Kirsten Powers of The Daily Beast, a Fox News guest, insisted that the National Rifle Association owns the GOP.
These tragic events are extremely riveting. They will always generate a wide span of interest, particularly with the spate of news outlets available. Nevertheless, much of the attack campaign favoring more gun control and against the Second Amendment is both ill-informed and often intentionally untrue.
For example, the overused "no one uses assault rifles for hunting or self-defense" conveniently ignores the fact that recreational and competition shooting is not only a lawful activity but also a very popular one. Furthermore, the attacks on the NRA are specious. The Second Amendment merits equal respect as the First Amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights — at least it is spelled out rather than implied as are the right to privacy and separation of church and state.
Since its origin in 1871, the NRA has promoted marksmanship, firearms safety, the protection of hunting and self-defense in the U.S. Additionally, it has campaigned, albeit unsuccessfully, for longer prison sentences for criminals who possess or use a firearm in commission of a crime.
Despite the fresh calls for new gun-control measures triggered by this latest mass killing, any change is highly unlikely. The public has wised up to the fact that more laws don't equal positive results. Last fall, for the first time, a Gallup poll found that assault or semi-automatic weapons bans were opposed by a majority of 53 percent to 43 percent.
As for needing new laws, murder is and has been unlawful for quite some time. Moreover, restricting the availability of or banning the sale and ownership of firearms does virtually nothing to prevent their use in crimes. By their very nature, criminals are more than somewhat averse to obeying laws. Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the U.S.; nevertheless, there have been more homicides there (228) than U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan this year (144).
As has been the norm, the renewed pressures for more gun laws are extremely vague as to the what and how measures for control. Other than lamenting the overabundant availability of the weapons and the scare tactics of the NRA, there is little that is new or necessary. As recent Supreme Court decisions have come down on the side of self-defense, Second Amendment rights have been strengthened.
The most troubling aspect of these mass murders — Columbine, Virginia Tech, the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and now Aurora — is that they were planned and carried out by people who were mentally disturbed. While 20/20 hindsight is used in alleging that "someone should have seen it coming," that is pure second-guessing by amateur psychologists.
Accordingly, until modern science or medicine devises a method through which an individual's homicidal tendencies can be detected or predicted by his or her "strange" behavior, I am afraid these massacres will be repeated.
One must wonder, however, if a speedy trial and swift and decisive punishment would not decrease the occurrence of these senseless acts of sheer violence by those seeking to make an equally senseless statement.