Living and Dying In the Country of the Gun

This is the face of insanity. The insane love of guns.

A friend wrote on Facebook: My thoughts on the shooting in Aurora, Colorado: For the most part, we seem to be a nation of broken people who are lost in our things, our success, our technology, our pain, our isolation, our wants.

Senseless acts such as these are committed by broken, lonely, angry people, who desperately want attention. The shooting last night in a public movie theater was no doubt committed by a young man with serious mental health issues. That is where our focus and analysis needs to be. Not on new gun laws or on taking arms from the people. The time has come for us to STOP making excuses for people like this–people like the ARMY Major in Texas that killed his fellow soldiers in a rant. Or the many other incidences where we see a lone gunman “go off” and kill innocent people. These people were time bombs, just waiting to go off.

While I concur with my friend’s sympathies, I’m not as quick as she is to play the 2nd Amendment card. The problem is not just crazy people getting their hands on guns. It’s also that organizations like the NRA make it easy for crazy people to get a gun.

Take away James Holmes’ weapon and substitute it with a knife. The body count goes down, not up. The connecting cord between Columbine, Virginia Tech, the Gabrielle Giffords shootings and the daily slaughter on the streets of Chicago and other urban areas is the GUN.

I don’t want to ban guns. Far from it. People have a right to protect themselves, but I’m waiting for the first yahoo to say, “Well, if only someone was legally carrying a gun they could have returned fire.” In a darkened, crowded theater with families? Please! They would need dump trucks to haul away all the bodies caught in the middle of a fire fight.

In the wake of the massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado that left 12 dead and 58 wounded, there will be investigations into how it happened, discussions about the mentally ill, and conversations on how to stop a future James Holmes from carrying out a similar deadly attack (we can’t).

We will have all kinds of conversations about what happened in Aurora.  All except the conversation we need to have.  The one about the all-too-easy access to guns and why nothing will be done about it.

The battle over gun control is over and gun control lost.  The NRA won.   President Obama won’t take on the gun lobby.   Mitt Romney won’t take on the gun lobby.  A few in Congress will introduce legislation and maybe even hold hearings into placing limits on guns, but nothing will come of it.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said,   “In this case he had a hundred rounds,” she said of James Holmes, the lone suspect in the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting. “He didn’t have to stop to reload. There was no chance for people to try to overpower him or to escape and I don’t believe that these military-type weapons and these magazines should be out on the streets of America.”

All talk, but no action.

“There is no reason why you have 100 rounds of ammunition. That is just an assault weapon killing machine and I personally believe these magazines should be banned. They serve no purpose, but to kill people, so why in the world are we allowing this,” Maloney added.

But Romney predictably said there is no need for new laws and reaffirmed his belief in the Second Amendment (as if anyone doubted it).

“I’m a firm believer in the Second Amendment and I also believe that this is — with emotions so high right now, this is really not a time to be talking about the politics associated with what happened in Aurora,” Romney said, “This is really a time, I think, for people to reach out to others in their community that need help or a comforting hand. Let’s do that for now and then we can get on to policy down the road.”

Ah yes.  The predictable “this is really not the time” to have meaningful discussions on issues that actually mean something.   Romney doesn’t want to talk about the politics behind the free-flowing access to guns and ammunition.   So what if Holmes had stockpiled 6,000 rounds of ammo and booby-trapped his apartment into an IED with wall-to-wall carpeting?   Let’s talk about something else.  Anything else but some psychopath armed to the teeth on a mission of mass murder.

Not that Obama is any better.  In some ways he’s worse.  White House press secretary Jay Carney says the president is committed to preventing gun crimes with “existing laws.”

Existing laws?  There was an existing law that banned the AR-15 assault weapon Holmes used to kill innocent moviegoers but it was repealed in 2004.    A surly New York Daily News editorial railed against the men who would be president and their weak-kneed empty platitudes to the dead and wounded while offering no new attempt to limit the unfettered access to guns.

The police chief in Aurora, Colo., said he is confident that massacre gunman James Holmes acted alone. The police chief was dead wrong.

Standing at Holmes’ side as he unleashed an AR-15 assault rifle and a shotgun and a handgun was Wayne LaPierre, political enforcer of the National Rifle Association.

Standing at Holmes’ side as he sprayed bullets and buckshot into a crowded movie theater were Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, a President and a would-be President, who have bowed to the NRA’s dictates and who responded to the slaughter Friday with revolting, useless treacle.

 Standing at Holmes’ side as he murdered 12 and wounded 59 were the millions of zealots who would sooner see blood flow and lives end than have to check a box on a gun registration form.

In a vain claim of innocence, the fanatics will say Holmes is a monster and a maniac, that he fired and fired and fired as a man possessed. Each protestation clamps their fingers with his around the trigger.

Because they made sure that virtually everyone, Holmes included, has unfettered legal access to heavy weaponry. And they made sure he was permitted by law to drive to the kill scene with a fully loaded arsenal.

Such is the conscienceless extremism of America’s gun lovers that they accept wholesale slaughter as akin to a fatal highway pileup. Accidents happen, in their grotesque view, and so do mass killings by firearms.

There will be no profiles in courage from the president or his challenger.  The race is too close and the stakes too high for Obama or Romney to risk it.  The NRA is too formidable an opponent for Obama to take on.  A handful of states will decide the winner of the presidency and Romney pledging anything less than total loyalty to gun rights or Obama coming on too strong against the millions of weapons already in the hands of law-abiding citizens is enough to tip a blue state into the red.

Damn sorry about your loss, but don’t expect me to DO anything..

There will be no debate.  The matter is closed.  With the exception of a few editorial boards and irrelevant blogs such as this one, the anguished cries and the pitiful screams of the dead and wounded in Aurora will go unheeded.   Human life is precious, but in America, the gun is sacred.  Neither Obama nor Romney will be heretics.

We will hear there is no way to predict or deter madmen like Holmes.   It might be helpful if there were some system in place to monitor the stockpiling of deadly arsenals by disturbed people, but means talking about privacy rights, unwanted and massive governmental intrusion, gun confiscation and the forcible treatment of the mentally ill, just to name a few hot buttons that would be pushed.

The United States of America is the most heavily armed country on the planet with 90 guns for every 100 citizens. A free society that cannot protect children from being shot down in a movie theater isn’t free at all. It’s lost its damn mind with its crazed lust for weapons. The bigger the firepower the bigger the body count. Nobody needs 6,000 rounds of ammunition. NOBODY.

James Holmes killed and wounded 70 people in less than four minutes. Constitutional rights don’t mean a damn thing if you’re too dead to enjoy them.

Senseless acts of violence may not be preventable, but allowing bloodthirsty psychopaths free and unfettered access to guns, ammo, and explosives is preventable.

The flip side of freedom and law and order is anarchy and chaos.  And madness.   This is a gun-crazy country and we are so crazy about our guns if a 6-year-old girl is shot down by a madman, that is an acceptable loss.

America has a love affair with the gun and that love is literally killing us. We need to break up.

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9 thoughts on “Living and Dying In the Country of the Gun

  1. Jeff, someone already made the ignorant, insane comment about other people in the theater being armed “stopping” the shooter. Russell Pearce of Arizona (where else?): http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/russell-pearce-colorado-shooting-facebook-202838588.html
    What a free-for-all that would have been. Unlike you, I’d love to see a gunless country. Sadly, I know that will never happen in the wild wild west (aka the United States of America). Every single gun and >6,000 bullets that Holmes purchased, he purchased *legally*. I say thank goodness he opted for the 100-round magazine, because according to gun nuts, it tends to jam where the smaller magazines don’t. Indeed, that gun DID jam. The body count would have been far higher if it hadn’t.

    I find it interesting and incredibly sad that the only gun legislation passed in the last 2 presidential administrations made it legal to carry weapons in our national parks. Now, doesn’t that give you a nice, warm fuzzy? The NRA is far too powerful to buck. And most of our politicians are too meek and weak to try. Let’s not forget that very shortly after the Columbine massacre, the NRA held their convention in Denver and gave thousands of dollars to Colorado politicians to defeat post-Columbine gun control legislation.

    I think we need to recognize mental illness when it occurs, also. Ferchristsakes, his MOM was a psychiatric nurse! You mean to tell me she didn’t notice any difference in her son in those last few weeks? She did make the odd comment “you have the right person” when called about her son shooting up a theater. I believe this kid is a schizophrenic; he’s the right age for the onset, and his actions sure seem to back that up.

    Take a gun-happy country, stir in a non-existant mental health system, and you have a recipe for disaster…which we have seem over and over and over again.

    • Yeah, it’s a hot mess, Suzanne. Everyone knows what the problem is. Some of us even know what the solutions are, but if the people don’t want it, the politicians don’t have the stomach for it and nobody wants to make the tough call, what’s gonna change?

      Nothing. Only the location of the next massacre and the names of the dead. Nobody screws with the NRA. Nobody has the stones to take them on.

      Maybe if I were a politician instead of just another freelancing blogger/writer I’d probably be no different from Romney or Obama. 😦

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more if I tried. I have had these discussions more than I would like, for 20 years I have had these discussions. Since the day I was shot three times and left for dead by the side of the road, I have had these discussions. Since the day unarmed Trayvon Martin was shot I have had these discussions. Since Virginia Tech, I have had these discussions. None of them help because none of them change the hearts and minds of those who believe they have the right to step out of their house and put you and I at risk.

    Guns don’t kill people, people do. Yes, people with guns kill.
    or my favorite the day after the tragedy in Aurora: 65,000,000 legal gun owners didn’t commit mass murder today.

    No, only one legal gun owner committed mass murder yesterday you bunch of insensitive azzhats.

    Our lack of compassion and empathy for the victims and their families as a nation proves to me we are turning into a nation of sociopaths. I fear for all of us as we arm greater numbers of lunatics.

  3. Everyone seems to be jumping on the same bandwagon these days. You hear about a situation like this and immediately start exaggerating the facts about the guns. Why? Because it makes it easier for you to blast your opinions of gun control, when you paint misleading pictures of what those weapons are actually capable of.
    We should be focusing on what would make a man go to this extreme, what would make him capable of killing a room full of strangers. Rather than pointing our fingers at the TOOLS he used, why don’t we step back and look at the REASON he did this horrible thing.
    And if you’re going to insist on blaming the guns, I’m going to insist that you actually do some research before you hit that “publish now” button. You know, like a “journalist” is supposed to?
    The rifle he had, is in no way an “AK-47” style weapon. It’s AR-15, which is the civillian model of the military’s M16. This rifle is NOT a fully automatic weapon(that means it only shoots one bullet every time you pull the trigger), it has the same rate of fire as any hunting rifle that you can buy at your local sporting goods store, not to mention that its a smaller caliber than those as well. Realistically speaking, the .40 caliber glock pistol he used, was much more dangerous, considering that its a much larger round, and fires at the same rate. Do you hear everyone complaining about him having the glock? No, because its not as easy to twist an image of a mad man spraying bullets into a crowd, when hes using a gun people are used to seeing (I’ll give you a hint, almost every police officer in the country wears one every day)
    Why don’t you stop using the deaths of innocent people as a tool for your own politics, and actually use your journalism skills for something useful, like finding out how to spot warning signs in people who may be capable of these kinds of acts in the future? That’ll go a lot farther to preventing these occurrences than trying to talk a nation into changing the constitution.

    • Hey look Truman, while I apologize for the typo mixing up the AR-15 with the AK-47, I do NOT need you or anybody else telling me how to use my journalism skills, you got that? If you’re a career counselor, I might be willing to take your advice, but otherwise you are waaaaaay out of line.

      While we’re on the subject of being useful, instead of deliberately misreading the Constitution which reads A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed, but has been conflated by gun fanatics to mean they should be able to own whatever weapon they desire, why don’t YOU spend some of your free time finding out how to spot warning signs in people who may be capable of these kinds of acts in the future?

      That will go a lot farther in preventing these occurrences than misreading the Constitution to arm yourself to the teeth. Like James Holmes did.

      • While the AR-15 that Holmes carried may not have been a full automatic, it is a semi-auto. From some research, I found that you can “bump fire” the AR and emulate full auto (800 rounds per minute). It’s all over YouTube, of all places. And, from what I read, the semi-auto will fire as fast as you can pull the trigger. We should all be grateful he chose to use the 100-round magazine, which has a history of jamming, and did jam while he was firing on innocent movie patrons. Then he resorted to the shotgun; a lot slower, but much more horrific and widespread damage there. I don’t know if he got a chance to use the pistols.

        Truman, while you may not be worried about the easy accessibility of the weapons and ammo Holmes used, some of us are. He purchased body armor from the same supplier that our military and some police forces use. The owner of the business says it “makes him sick” that he got gear from them, but the order “didn’t stand out”. How hard is it for him to verify military or police ID before filling an order? Holmes purchased thousands upon thousands of rounds of ammo via the internet and didn’t set off any alarms. Ho hum, just another ‘Murrican goin’ out shootin’.

        Truman, we aren’t the ones using this tragedy for politics. The NRA uses these situations to their benefit, twisting logic on its ear that the problem isn’t guns, it’s that there aren’t *enough* guns! Why, if every man, woman, child and dog were armed, these things wouldn’t happen!

        And I believe I mentioned mental illness in my post. Holmes is definitely padded-room material, and yet he bought every gun, every bullet, every magazine holder, every piece of body armor, every knife, gas, and gas mask legally without raising any sort of alarm that maybe he wasn’t quite right in the head. (The gun ranges he tried to join evidently noticed, but of course they didn’t alert anyone.) Every day there is another story about some whackadoodle armed to the teeth. There was one just a few blocks away from me who shot a city inspector and barricaded himself in his hoarded house for 8 hours shooting at police and SWAT before finally being captured (thankfully, without anyone else being injured). This is a guy who was known to be “off” by neighbors, the city, the mailman, and just about anyone who came in contact with him. But he managed to obtain a semi-auto weapon, even though he was not legally supposed to (being a felon).

        And then there’s this: “More than half the states are not complying with a post-Virginia Tech law that requires them to share the names of mentally ill people with a system of national background checks to prevent them from buying guns, an Associated Press review has found.” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41653442/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/most-states-dont-follow-mental-health-gun-law/#.UBQCy6PHmZQ That was a year ago.The law is pretty weak sauce, but it’s all we have, and gun states *still* have a problem with it.

        No, Truman, the root problem IS guns.

  4. You can have more gun laws and less guns, but that doesn’t address the root problem. We are nurtured by and spoon fed violence from the time we are in the womb…we thrive on violence; from video games to drone massacres, we have been digitally programmed to accept and lust for violent behavior. May the souls of the slaughtered in Aurora rest in peace and the wounded not be forgotten, but the incredibly sad irony is that all the movie goers present that night were excited and anxious to indulge in an evening of on-screen violence. How tragic that they saw their fantasies become reality. We have always enjoyed the mind orgasm of seeing someone getting blown away. It doesn’t have to be in a movie. The thrill of Saddam Husein being hanged or Osama Bin Laden being executed turns us on. Yeh, they were dirt bags, but what does enjoying their death say about us, especially all those flag waving Christ-ians out there. I believe I recall something about a Command from God that says, “Thou shalt not kill”. Maybe they have found a disclaimer.

    In any event, this is our heritage as Ameri-cons and humanoids…it is truly a brutal testimony of how little we have progressed in our evolution as a species…violence as a solution to any of our dilemmas is beyond barbaric or uncivilized, it is inhuman…but, profitable…

    Aurora, the movie is already in the works…

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