ON DISTANT SHORE
By Val G. Abelgas
The shooting rampage that killed 12 people and injured 58 others inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado last week has reignited a national debate over the United States’ gun control laws. The issue resurfaces after every mass shooting and consequently dies after just a few days, massacred each time by a powerful lobby from the ultra-conservatives and the National Rifle Association.
James Holmes, a brilliant, but apparently disturbed doctoral student, used an assault rifle that had a 100-round magazine, a shotgun and a Glock pistol plus several hundred bullets in carrying out his macabre massacre inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado where patrons were watching a midnight first-day showing of the much-awaited “Dark Knight Rises.”
The 24-year-old Holmes purchased the guns legally from various gun stores, and ordered 6,000 rounds of ammunition legally from online sources. He had another Glock pistol inside his car when apprehended, also bought legally, just like he was buying candies from a liquor store.
“Weapons of war don’t belong on the streets,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, an avid gun control advocate, said, adding that the country needs to have a “sane” debate about banning military-style assault weapons.
“This is a powerful weapon, it had a 100-round drum,” the senator said. “This is a man who planned, who went in, and his purpose was to kill as many people as he could in a sold-out theater. We’ve got to really sit down and come to grips with what is sold to the average citizen in America.”
Another leading gun control advocate, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed and son injured in the 1993 Long Island Rail Road shooting, said there’s one thing mass shooters have in common: a gun that can carry lots of ammunition.
The gun advocates, of course, argued, as they have argued before, that people kill people, guns don’t kill people. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz0na), for example, said “we need to look at everything” but was skeptical that more gun control is necessary.
“I think that the strongest Second Amendment rights people would be glad to have a conversation, but to somehow leap to the conclusion that this was somehow caused by the fact that we don’t have more gun control legislation, I don’t think, has been proved,” he said.
But Holmes did gain access to guns, legally said the police, because they were available to almost anybody who has the money to buy them – assault weapons, shotguns, and ammunition. He even bought the 6,000 bullets online, for God’s sake, and nobody among the sellers even cared where he was going to use them.
Because of the lax gun control laws or the absence of it in some states, many people who shouldn’t own a gun in the first place – criminals, gangsters, mentally and emotionally disturbed people – are able to buy guns. California at least has a 10-day waiting period, during which time the police records of the buyers, if any, are checked. But even this has not deterred these people from owning guns.
Hopefully, with the recent mass shootings, Congress and state legislatures will do something to legislate stricter gun control measures. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms, was introduced in 1791, when guns probably couldn’t even kill a deer from a distance. Unfortunately, the Second Amendment has been upheld by the Supreme Court twice.
Unless the US Constitution is amended, which is unlikely, all that lawmakers can do is institute stricter gun controls that would not run counter to that dreadful Second Amendment.
Guns are the hands of evil. Their only purpose is to maim and kill. They were invented to kill people and animals alike; to kill people and take advantage of the victims’ material possessions and the victims’ surviving family, friends, or countrymen; to kill animals for pleasure and for food.
Gun owners know that the cardinal rule in owning a gun is that one should know how to use it, and should be ready to use it, meaning ready to aim it where it will inflict the most harm or certain death, and to pull the trigger. They say that if you own a gun, you should be ready to kill. Otherwise, you will be the one who’ll get killed.
And yet, guns are so readily available to anyone in the United States who has more than $50 in his pocket. Guns are sold everywhere, even in pawnshops and hardware stores. You can legally buy virtually any kind of weapons from these stores — from the smallest handguns to the most powerful assault rifles.
If it’s only possible, I would want every single gun in this world thrown to the furnaces of steel plants and recycled to make bicycles or cars, or into anything that has a purpose other than maiming or killing a creature or human being. But that’s dreaming too much. That’s a mirage. An illusion.
So, what’s the next best thing to do? Control gun ownership.
How? Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know how gun dealers can be stopped from selling guns to drug lords, gangs, and other criminal elements. I don’t know how wayward teens can be stopped from gaining access to guns purchased by their otherwise responsible parents.
I don’t know how to stop young, innocent children from getting hold of their parent’s gun, and pointing it to their friend or to their little head, and unknowingly pull the trigger. I don’t know how to stop a severely depressed person from getting hold of a gun he had purchased solely to protect his family, point it to his head, and blow it to kingdom come. I don’t know how to stop a confused teenager from taking a gun from his gang mate, point it to a rival gang member or to a suspected rival gang member’s house, and pull the trigger continuously until the gang member, or an innocent child, or an unknowing bystander are bleeding from the head.
I don’t know how to stop a confused student from getting hold of an assault rifle, shooting indiscriminately at his schoolmates, until many of them lay dead or wounded, and then pointing the gun to his own head. I don’t know how to stop a misdirected racist from getting hold of a powerful handgun, shoot any colored person or Jew he sees, and then, again, point the gun to his head and end his imagined suffering.
Does anybody know? Do the gun advocates know?