Saturday, July 21, 2012

Who's In Control?

My brother and I went to the movie theater on July 19th around 6PM to watch a marathon leading up to the midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises". We hadn't gone for a midnight premiere together in years and we were looking forward to seeing all three films in the trilogy on the big screen. We got home around 3:15 AM and promptly went off to sleep. Our family told us about the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado the next morning when we woke up. I couldn't help but think that it could very well have been any movie theater in which the shooting could have occurred. There could have been any number of the movie-going audience that was with us that could have been feeling 'a bit disturbed' and could have decided to open fire, blow up a bomb, or just randomly start killing the people around him. We were fortunate that everyone we went to see the film with was there for the same purpose, to have a good time and see a great movie.

But in the wake of the shootings in Colorado we again hear the familiar refrains regarding the arguments for gun control and mental illness. Anti-gun control supporters will tell you that had we had less stringent open carry laws, a potential shooter would know that anyone else in the theater could likely be carrying so they would likely choose not to open fire. That's a compelling argument but then I ask these same people what they would do if they suddenly found themselves facing an AR-15 in the middle of a movie theater. For those that don't know, the AR-15 is an assault rifle in civilian form; it's similar to what the Army issues our troops. A handgun, which most normal people purchase and would carry when they want to open carry a gun, would probably pale in comparison to that. So then the argument becomes one of escalation. If people are going to open fire using semi-automatic weapons then we should all be allowed to carry them in self-defense.

That's our right as Americans, the second amendment guarantees that; but then what puzzles me about people who strongly feel that way is why they have such low opinions of countries where that has been the norm for centuries. Many of these same people will talk about the nations of the Middle East where carrying weapons is a sign of respect as if it is a backwards and primitive culture. So what would we become if we were allowed to carry weapons around like we were back in the Wild West? Perhaps they feel that isn't the argument that they are making but one of simple protection. If we didn't have such easy access to weapons (and believe me, it's easier than many people think) then we would have to worry less about such incidents.

I won't be naive and assume that banning guns would mean no more guns would be in unauthorized hands but rather I believe in limiting the types of weapons we have access to. Home protection can likely be done using a handgun or a shotgun. The sound of a shotgun being chambered is likely to scare off anyone who hears it. And last I checked, we don't live in a wild and lawless land. Sure there are problems on the Mexican border in places but rare is the time that we would need an assault rifle pointed towards the border between the states. We aren't living in colonial times where defense against foreign nations was a true and real threat. I have faith in our country to know that in the event of such an unthinkable occurrence, our armed forces would lend a hand and defend our country.

People who advocate the Second Amendment often say that they have the right to collect guns, they have the right to own any type of weapon that they want. I collect comics so suppose I can understand that mindset. I mean I suppose I wouldn't want anyone to tell me I couldn't collect old issues of "Superman" or "Batman". Similarly if a gun-nut wants to own an AK-47 he should definitely have that right then. By the same token then, shouldn't a fan of nuclear fission be allowed to have equal access to nuclear materials in his home (and I don't mean for bomb-making)? When faced with such questions, anti-gun control people rear up and state that that's not the same thing. It isn't? Maybe the nuclear fission fan wants to develop a new source of energy to stop our dependence on foreign oil. But I guess if his name happens to be anything other than Smith or Jones I suppose it would be viewed with much more suspicion, which gun nuts would then say proves the need to have machine guns.

We need to use common sense. We have two hands, at any given time we'd only ever be able to use two guns at once, so why would a single person need an arsenal? We have background checks in place to supposedly help prevent mentally disturbed people get their hands on guns, but if people haven't done anything bad yet (like shoot up a movie theater) then what's to prevent them from getting guns to then do so? Not much as it turns out. If you want to own a gun, by all means buy one and sleep soundly at night, just don't tell me that you need to have an assault rifle to feel that same level of safety; we live in America, not a war torn country.

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