Politicizing the Tragedy of Gun Deaths

July 31, 2012Noah Baron

Tragedy struck Aurora, Colorado last week. A man walked into a crowded movie theater armed with automatic weapons and took the lives of twelve people, including a six-year-old girl. And, as follows too many tragedies involving guns, the gun lobby, and those on the right, has claimed that any effort to point out the connection between guns and gun violence is “politicization.” But, the facts are there. We’re told by gun-rights advocates that, if only someone in the theater had a gun, the shooter could have been stopped; that, just like any “freedom of speech” issue, the solution is more, not less. The difference is that more speech results in debate; more guns result in more deaths. If someone in that theater – in the dark and the chaos – had a gun, or if many had had guns, would they have been able to take down the shooter, who was covered in bulletproof armor? Or might they have missed, and killed even more people?

The most effective way to prevent gun deaths is to reduce the number of guns and, in particular, those guns that can kill many people in a short period of time. Had the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (which Congress allowed to expire in 2004) been in place, the guns used by suspected shooter James Holmes would have been much more difficult to acquire. The ammunition he used – which enabled him to shoot so many people, so quickly, without having to reload – would have been illegal. Yet, for decades, the gun lobby has opposed even common-sense legislation restricting the use or sale of guns. The New Yorker recently published a brief history of gun control. In it, Jon Michaud writes about the attempt to regulate guns following the assassination of President Kennedy, and again after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. One piece of legislation aimed to restrict the sale of guns through the mail, but it quickly stalled in Congress after vociferous opposition by the gun lobby. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the Aurora shooting, but I hope that out of this senseless tragedy we can focus our national attention to the need for sensible gun-control laws.

May the memories of the victims remain with their families and in our hearts for blessing. Image courtesy of the IBTimes.

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