Homeland Security and Public Safety

The Gun Control Cop-Out (Opinion)

Usually tragedies with many victims spawn action, but gun control measures don’t follow mass shootings.

When listening to the 911 calls from the Aurora, Colo., massacre in July, you get a sense of the horror in the voices of police, fire personnel and dispatchers. The subjects stay remarkably calm amid the chaos, but you can feel the desperation as cops plead for ambulances, including one officer who tended to a child who later died. 

The crazed gunman — James Holmes was charged with the massacre — entered a movie theater and unleashed an attack using his recently purchased AR-15 assault rifle (with high-capacity magazine), a Glock 9 mm pistol, a shotgun and some 6,000 bullets that had been delivered to him.

The final tally: 12 dead, 58 wounded.

Two weeks after the shooting spree in Aurora, a gunman, armed with a recently purchased 9 mm and 19 rounds of ammunition, killed six and wounded four at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Another active shooter call went out near the Texas A&M campus on Aug. 13. The result was a dead police officer and innocent bystander, along with the troubled gunman.

Usually tragedies with many victims spawn action. But when it’s a guy with a gun, we get the predictable calls for gun control and then the predictable push back from the gun lobby and those “owned” by the gun lobby. Then it’s quiet until the next shooting.

After the Colorado slaughter, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was vocal in advocating for more gun control, blasting both presidential candidates, saying politicians are afraid of the National Rifle Association. Bloomberg said he didn’t think there was a rational person who could argue that the laws we have and how we enforce them prohibits carnage.

“Police officers want to go home to their families. And we’re doing everything we can to make their job more difficult, but more importantly, more dangerous, by leaving guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them and letting people who have those guns buy things like armor-piercing bullets,” he told CNN.

All sorts of counterarguments have been made since a gunman aimed his weapons of destruction at innocent moviegoers.

David Brooks, a respected New York Times columnist, blamed a lack of help for the mentally ill. He said more treatment programs are needed, not more gun laws. He’s half right.

Gun enthusiasts argue that we arm everyone and train them to be expert marksmen, able to take out a bad guy in the most chaotic scenarios. It’s preposterous when you think about it. Eyewitness accounts after chaotic scenes are often wildly inaccurate because when it’s happening people aren’t sure of what they’re seeing. Should we expect laypeople to determine in a split second what’s occurring and make a life-or-death judgment?

These arguments maintain that criminals will find a way to do their deeds, including using homemade bombs, knives, acid and even cars as weapons.

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey asked, “If we ban guns should we ban automobiles?” Such arguments fall pitifully short, especially the nonsensical likening of banning automobiles, essential to commerce and daily life, to restricting weapons and ammo designed to kill people, not game.

Most gun owners, including me (I own two shotguns to hunt pheasants and doves) find it absurd that it’s so easy to stockpile caches of weapons and would accept a few more restrictions on gun shows and ammunition sales. Making it harder for the unstable to arm themselves to the hilt would save lives.

To say that crazies will inevitably get weapons and there isn’t much we can do about it is a cop-out.

Jim McKay  |  Editor

Jim McKay is the editor of Emergency Management. He lives in Orangevale, Calif., with his wife, Christie, daughter, Ellie, and son, Ronan. He relaxes by fly fishing on the Truckee River for big, wild trout. Jim can be reached at jmckay@emergencymgmt.com.