Aurora and gun control

The shootings at a theater in Aurora were tragic. A man with untold problems decided to take the lives of many innocent people. My first reaction was that if gun control laws were more restrictive, the killer may not have been able to get the gun he needed to kill so many people.

A very good friend believes the opposite. He would argue that if a sane person in the theater with good marksmanship skills were carrying a concealed weapon, that person could have killed the shooter before all his killings were completed. We argued extensively about gun control a few years back and finally realized we could not convince the other to change his mind. We put the argument behind us and our friendship has grown deeper.

I am not going to argue here about gun control. I will say that with great freedom comes great responsibility. As the parent of two teenagers, I know the feeling of handing over the keys to a car for that first solo run. Anything could happen. As a society that has handed the controls of lethal weapons to nearly anybody, anything can happen.

My son went to a midnight showing — the same movie on the same night, at a different theater 15 miles from the tragic location. My family is not very different from some of the families whose sons and daughters were killed. My son could have been killed. Your daughter could have been killed.

I am thankful for our freedom — but I am sad for the frequent abuses of that freedom. I would be willing to give up a little freedom in exchange for a little more sanity.

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5 Replies to “Aurora and gun control”

  1. There was a good editorial in the San Antonio newspaper yesterday titled “The Obvious Question — Ignored, Obviously.” The author, Mr. Pimentel, made some very reasonable points about the need for stronger gun laws, all while acknowledging that nothing will change. I wrote him a thank-you email saying the following:

    “Not only do I completely share your views, but I also applaud your courage in writing today’s editorial. The gun lobby’s irrationality seems to be matched only by their angry reactions whenever they are criticized. I’m grateful for what you wrote, however pointless it may be, especially in our gun-crazy State of TX. (And in the face of widespread public indifference to this important issue.)”

  2. I honestly don’t think this is a gun control issue. From everything I’ve read and heard, there was nothing in this young man’s background that would have raised a red flag, no matter how stringent the gun control laws were. For some reason, he was determined to kill a lot of people, both in the theater and possibly in his apartment building. And if he wasn’t able to legally buy the guns, he would have found a different way to kill.

    The issue, to me, is why? Why did a seemingly normal, highly intelligent person with a potentially brilliant future in science choose to cause such destruction? This was not a spur of the moment action — he took a lot of time planning and preparing what is basically an act of terrorism not so much different from the suicide bombers in the Middle East. In their case, they at least believe they are doing something godly, however mistaken that may be. But in this case, what was he thinking? Why have we had so many cases like this in the last 10–15 years, where someone, seemingly at random, just starts killing?

    This has nothing to do with gun control or with freedom. It has to do with much bigger issues, like our separation from God, our lack of respect for life and humanity, perhaps a degeneration into fantasy and un-reality. In my mind, to talk about giving up freedom and increasing gun control is to avoid looking at the basic problem. In this case, the guns were only the means to an end. The question should be — why that end? What was the beginning?

    1. I pretty much agree with you, Deb. There are bigger issues at stake.

      And one thing that always bothers me about such tragedies is how narrow-focused we are in the US. Every day, in places like Afghanistan, those kinds of numbers of people are being killed, and we barely hear about it.

  3. I respectfully disagree with Deb B. If you applied that logic to the 9/11 airplane attacks, you could say, “The airplanes were only a means to an end. If they hadn’t used the airplanes, they would have used something else. Having tighter security measures at airports following 9/11 was just ignoring the larger problem.” 

    In one way the Aurora incident was very much about gun control, in that it highlights a very real issue, which is how easy it is to buy assault weapons in stores and hundred-round magazines online, not mention thousands of rounds of ammo — without anyone seeing any problem with those acts! There is no reason why any person outside the military or law enforcement should need to buy assault weapons, at least not a reason that doesn’t involve some kind of wild fantasy of government conspiracy.

  4. In part, I agree with your statement about 9/11 — if they hadn’t used planes they would have used something else. My intent was not to weigh in one way or the other about gun control or security, but to address the bigger issue of people’s hearts and minds. To focus ONLY on security or gun control IS to ignore the larger problem. The Aurora shooter’s mom is reported as saying that she was worried about his anti-sociability. And no amount of security or gun control would have cured that.

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