Monday, July 23, 2012

Sometimes it takes a Child to raise a Village

As have many many Americans, I've seen the news coverage of the horrific events in Aurora, Colorado. I think pretty most everyone are asking many of the same questions
  • How could it happen?
  • Why did it happen?
  • What could be done differently to prevent it?
The very first question is clearly the easiest to answer of the three. We know someone walked into a theater, threw some smoke grenades and then opened fire, killing at least 12 people and injuring 59 others.

The second question does not have an answer right now. So far the authorities have said that the shooter was not crazed. He left no manifesto with reasons on his action. He did not have a vendetta against the theater chain. He did not personally know any of the victims. Had any of those been true, it would have been far easier to rationalize his irrational actions for general consumption.

One of the things they've said is he had been planning this for months. And if his actions at the movie theater weren't bad enough, he booby trapped his apartment so that anyone coming in would get a big, and fateful, surprise.

Hopefully, some explanation will eventually became known so we can get a better understanding on what, if anything, makes this different than any of the previous rampages by gunmen in the United States.

The third question is the most contentious of the three; and one of the most fiery issues in this country.
On one side is the pro-gun lobby which makes the basic argument that if we make owning a gun illegal, only criminals will own guns. On the other side you've got the anti-gun lobby which says we should make it a crime to own any type of fire arm because limiting their availability will cut down on crime.

I will agree with organizations, such as the National Rifle Association, that making gun ownership illegal for law abiding Americans won't do anything to take guns away from the criminals. Anyone arguing against that basic statement is misguided. With that said, that's about as far as I'm willing to publicly agree with their gun control stances.

The basic thorny issue is the meaning of Amendment II of the Constitution.
In 2008 the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4, in District of Columbia vs. Heller, that citizens CAN own guns regardless of whether they're in the National Guard (i.e.: militia), or not. Obviously, this was a very close decision, and one vote the other way would have changed gun laws in a major way.

if you want to really get a handle on what the original intent of the 2nd Amendment was, you need to look at what the Founding Fathers wrote.
There should be NO question what James Madison intended when you read his original wording:
"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person."
The placement of that semi-colon is important as it, grammatically, separates gun ownership from the militia membership. That semi-colon got changed to a comma along the way by a Congressional typesetter, NOT by Madison, or the Congress. When the Bills of Rights were ratified, the semi-colon was not returned.

Getting past the intent of ownership issue, the next subject is regulation. It would take a novel the size of War and Peace to summarize all the court cases on whether there should be any, what type.
With all that said, I ask you to consider something. When the Founding Fathers were around, the leading edge technology was the Flintlock Musket. It could be fired at an Earth shattering rate of four shots a minute if you were using premade cartridges! It would be around 100 years after the Revolutionary War before the first fully automatic rifle was developed by the Mexican military.
In the next 100 years we have seen semi and fully automatic rifle and pistol manufacturing made common.

Beyond the question of how fast a bullet can be delivered, there's also the advancement in quality of the projectile. During the Revolutionary War, mini balls were individually cast by hand. No two were alike, and by 1800 standards they were expensive. Today, bullets are stamped out by machines thousands at a time allowing people to access a virtually unlimited supply with a simple phone call.
In fact, the Aurora assailant purchased 6000 rounds over the past few months. What justification can there be for an individual to buy that many rounds during that short a period of time?

Anti-gun control proponents say there should be no limit on gun types or ammunition purchases. Do people really need to the ability to buy a 50 caliber rifle capable of blowing a hole through 2+ inches of bullet-proof glass just because they might want to go moose hunting?

A Facebook friend recently commented on how people should be allowed to openly carry guns wherever they want to, and about how it would be a deterrent to anyone that might want to go on a shooting spree.

Had that been the case I can only imagine many of those 59 others wounded would have ended up at the morgue instead of the hospital, due to crossfire amongst the clouds of smoke and darkness; and that doesn't even take into account it was a fully packed theater for a hugely popular film.

I'm not asking for an outright prohibition on gun ownership. I think people should have the right to have firearms if they wish to enjoy hunting, or for protection in certain circumstances. However, it's time for a more robust regulation on some types of weaponry, such as assault rifles; and some type of system to track ammunition.

To be most effective this control needs to start at the time of manufacturing, not the sales. Some guns just don't need to end up in the hands of the general public.
Additionally, registration should be considered for anything more than the basic rifle/pistol that uses something above the smallest of calibers. The argument is that this violates a person's right to privacy. But, I suggest your right to privacy is already abrogated when you filled out that form to buy that firearm. If you didn't, you've ALREADY violated the law.

* * *

Some will find the title I chose offensive, suggesting I was sensationalizing the death of a young girl just to attract more readers.

Quite the contrary. I used it to illustrate the need to do something to turn the growing violence, and the availability of far more dangerous weapons that are being mass manufactured.

As of when I'm writing this blog,  12 people have lost their lives in the Aurora theater shooting. Fifty-nine others have been injured, so that first number might go up.

With the exception of her family and friends, Veronica Moser-Sullivan may not be any more, or less, important than any of the other people cut down that day. To me, I look at a photo of a smiling six-year-old girl and I cry a bit inside. In the first decade of her life, she was enjoying life. In fact, she just learned how to swim.

I can think back to when I was six-years-old. My cares in life would have been watching baseball or going camping with my family. One of the first grade art projects I had that year in Mrs. McQueon's class, was to make a drawing of what I wanted to do when I grew up.

With the typical vision of a six-year old it didn't stay the same for long. At that point I wanted to grow up and be a park ranger. A few months later it would to be a police officer, which was followed a short time later by something else. Obviously, I didn't know what I wanted to be at that tender age, but I had a vision.

I wonder what Veronica wanted to grow up to be? It's a shame that she wasn't given that opportunity to fulfill whatever her dreams might have been.

And I ask shouldn't society do SOMETHING to make sure other Veronicas (…and Tommys and Glens and Patricias, etc.),  have every opportunity to live a long life and find out if they reached their dreams?


Unknown said...

Well said. It is disappointing that so many people are using this to grind their axe (be it pro-gun or anti-gun) and I think we need to really examine the firearm in our society.

Unknown said...

-Gil (I am a known quantity) it made me sign in, don't know why it doesn't display.

robertjm said...

That is odd. When I click on word "Unknown" it shows me you are a blogger since Feb. 2012. However, it doesn't have info about you, nor your blog.