Everyone has by now heard about the tragic shooting at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, CO. I think this is the third mass shooting to occur since I started blogging (the other two being Loughner’s rampage in Arizona, and Brevik’s in Norway); James Holmes’s spree seems (at this point) to have more in common with the latter than the former, especially given how much planning was involved.
Of course, the usual suspects wasted no time in clamoring for an “honest conversation on gun control,” which means, of course, the same thing as “compromise.” That is, they get everything they want (more gun control), and we are left holding the bag.
Roger Ebert kicked things off, Friday, with his opinion piece in the NYT, in which he calls our gun laws “insane.” He talked about how no one at the theater in Aurora shot back, even though people say they need guns to defend themselves. Apparently Cinemark has a no guns policy. This policy was just as effective here as they were at Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, and pretty much everywhere else there’s been a mass shooting in the US. Ebert also mentions a guy he knows in Chicago who was carrying a pistol, and showed it off to Ebert and a mutual friend in a bar. That can’t be; guns are all but banned in Chicago, and carrying them is right out. Ebert even brings up the recent shooting in Toronto. Canada has stricter gun controls than the US (and has a de facto ban on carry), and yet those stricter laws didn’t stop that shooting.
For that matter, Australia has even tougher gun controls, and yet the violent crime rate there is greater than in the US. In fact, the gun crime rate increased after gun control measures were implemented.
Eliot Spitzer, the erstwhile governor of New York, who resigned in disgrace amid a prostitution scandal (he’d spent ~$80,000 on call girls while he was NY’s Attorney General and governor), felt the need to chime in, too. Apparently, the shooting was “inevitable,” and we shouldn’t be shocked given our lax gun laws. He hits all the Brady and CSGV talking points: we should ban “military-style assault weapons” and “assault clips holding more than 10 rounds,” and we should require microstamping. Unlike the federal Assault Weapons Ban of ’94, New York’s AWB had no sunset provision; standard capacity magazines and weapons that have more than one “scary” cosmetic feature are still banned there (unless you had them prior to the ban, in which case they’re just fine). Microstamping is infeasible; the cost alone is prohibitive, and it could be defeated by simply swapping the firing pin out. Even setting that aside, microstamping would have affected the shooting in Aurora not at all. The shooter was the only one armed, and he just waited for the police to show up. There’s no question what guns the casings in the theater came from. Spitzer wants “meaningful gun control,” like what other nations have put in place. Too bad the gun control those other nations have doesn’t actually make anyone safer (see above!).
Amy Sullivan joins Bloomberg in demanding an “honest debate about guns.” Of course, Bloomberg has made his disdain for the Constitution clear in the past (what with his very own anti-gun organization (MAIG), and his blatant, repeated, and institutionalized violations of the Fourth Amendment (stop-and-frisk)). Sullivan immediately starts blasting the NRA for opposing the UN Small Arms Treaty, since it wouldn’t supersede the Constitution, and would only apply internationally. Well, if that’s the case, why would she use the Aurora tragedy to advocate for this treaty? After all, if it’s only international and wouldn’t supersede the Constitution, bringing it up seems like a complete non sequitur. She doesn’t bring up any domestic gun control ideas at all (she feigns horror that Congress has done nothing in the two years since one of their own was shot in a similar mass shooting in Arizona); all she talks about for the entire last half of her piece is the UN Small Arms Treaty.
Even the New York Post gets in on the blood-dancing game. They do admit that this shooting is no reason to get rid of the Second Amendment, but they also say, “there is no legitimate reason for gun-sellers to be peddling militarized accessories, like high-capacity ammunition magazines, speed loaders and such.” I know it might be hard to believe, but aside from New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California, Maryland, and Connecticut (I think that’s all of them), “high-capacity” magazines are perfectly legal. In fact, they’re not high-capacity at all; 20- and 30-round magazines are standard for the AR-15. As I understand it, Holmes did have a 100-round drum magazine (which don’t come cheap). For that matter, 15+ round magazines are standard for pistols (my P226 holds 18 rounds of 9mm in each magazine); I think the .40 S&W Glock models Holmes used both come standard with 15-round magazines as well. In fact, the large magazine the shooter used here backfired; it jammed (something similar happend during Loughner’s shooting; his 30-round magazines for his pistol were more unwieldy than standard magazines, and his fumbling them provided an opportunity for people to attack him (IIRC, anyway)). If Holmes had used standard 30-round AR-15 magazines, I doubt he would have had the problems he did with his 100-round drum magazine.
The New York Daily News puts the blood on the hands of Obama, Romney, and the NRA (and not, you know, on the actual shooter). The editorial board demands gun registration (how gun registration would have stopped Holmes, I have no idea; the worst thing on his record before this was a traffic ticket, I think). They talk about how street-crime shootings dwarf the big massacres (in terms of body count), and if only we had laws limiting access to guns, this would magically stop. They are shocked that Holmes was able to drive around with his guns (how else are you going to get to a gun range, or get home from the store where you bought your guns?). And, of course, they clamor for a reinstatement of the AWB at the very least. They even bring up the Columbine massacre. Of course, they don’t point out that Columbine happened in 1999, right smack-dab in the middle of the ’94 AWB. If an AWB were going to stop mass shootings, wouldn’t it have stopped that one?
Actor/comedian Jason Alexander went on a long rant about the Second Amendment and gun control, and how rifles like the AR-15 shouldn’t be in civilian hands. He quotes Alexander Hamilton and Merriam-Webster on militias. He doesn’t, however, quote George Mason, who said, “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials.” Alexander rants for a while, and trots out various canards, finally closing with this statement: “I’ll say it plainly – if someone wants these weapons, they intend to use them. And if they are willing to force others to “pry it from my cold, dead hand”, then they are probably planning on using them on people.” Now, the AR-15 is probably the most popular rifle in the US today; people use them for hunting, for target shooting, for home defense, for varmint control, and for shooting competitions. They buy AR-15s because they look cool, because they’re easy to use, because they’re modular, because politicians don’t want them to have them, and because it’s virtually identical to the rifles they used in the service. These rifles are rarely used in crimes (if you’re going to commit a crime, are you going to lug around a rifle, or are you going to stick a pistol in your waistband?).
Not all of the media coverage has been negative; CNBC points out that the forces agitating for gun control are now mostly impotent.
The shooting in Aurora was a tragedy. It was not, however, the nefarious work of the gun lobby, or the NRA, or politicians. It was the work of one man, who, in the words of Alfred, just wanted to watch the world burn.
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.
The anti-gunners, though, are just using this to try to drum up political support and donations so they can push their misguided views on the rest of us.