A couple days ago I wrote a piece for THE RAW STORY: Culture Clutch, a quick response to the Aurora Colorado movie theater massacre. The piece was called “Batman and the painful irony of the Colorado movie theater shooting”. Since I did point out that loopholes in gun control laws and NRA activism had made the shooting more likely, I naturally roused the ire of NRA and libertarian types. A libertarian sent in a response which was originally considered to run at The Raw Story. The response claimed among other things that I had advocated abolishing guns and they also suggested that the gunman might’ve been controlled by the CIA or some other outfit for sinister conspiracy purposes. The Raw Story didn’t run it, but before I was aware they’d decided not to run it I wrote this response, and it will serve to reply to Libertarians generally. First, HERE is the original piece I wrote, and here is my reply to the libertarian anti-regulatory screed:
I protest: I never said a word about abolishing guns. In fact, I said I intend to buy one soon. (Have wanted to for awhile, just for home defense in an emergency.)
I said that there’s a good chance that the Aurora murderer has a history of mental illness or quite noticeable instability; perhaps it’s documented by doctors; perhaps he posted red-flag-worth manifestos. I’m not sure yet. I do know that his family apparently said, “You have the right guy”–they seem unsurprised that he had acted out this way. They knew he was insane. And of course he’s insane–whether or not it’s documented. The “diagnosis” is now a fait accompli. Mass murder provides a pretty clear indication of insanity.
And I am saying, by extension, that there is good reason to believe that many people who’ve committed like crimes, acting out their madness with guns, had a history of mental illness that should have precluded them from being able to buy guns in a civilized nation.
It’s partly about common sense and proportion.
The killer had an AR15 (not an AK as first reported). AR15 is, as I recall, one of the world’s most popular assault rifles. It’s a military weapon. His may have been only semi automatic, I don’t know, but even then–it will unloose a big clip (and unusually large clips can be introduced) of high powered ammo very rapidly, fast as you can twitch your finger.
This apparently was his primary weapon of choice–but being a gun fetishist, he had a number of others with him. He was like a cartoon image of a battleship, armored and bristling with guns. Even if he was not a person with a documented history of insanity–was there any real reason he should have access to an AR15? Really? (Why? “Why not” given events, is a laughable response.)
I’ve heard that it’s legal to carry a concealed weapon in Aurora, if you have a license–which is not hard to get. If that’s true I think there’s a good chance that someone in the audience had a concealed weapon on them when the shooting started. But if they’d started shooting, they’d have likely hurt someone in the crowd themselves, in all the chaos and darkness; and you’d only have muzzle flashes, coming from a dark corner, to shoot at. And –this hypothetical vigilante was outgunned. In the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, there were armed people in the crowd. The vigilante in that case didn’t fight–too much chaos, too much risk of hurting the wrong people. And they were probably outgunned. So the “this is why we need to carry guns” argument is quite porous, and leaky…It’s leaking blood.
40% of gun buyers purchase guns at GUN SHOWS where the law does NOT require a background check. In other zones of purchase, the NRA has successfully militated against enforcement of background checks regarding psychiatric history.
We need intelligent (and enforced) gun control, just as we need intelligently sized government–no we don’t need big government, we need government that is just big enough to serve us effectively, eg in enforcing civil rights, and in preventing pollution and banking criminality. And we do not need big gun control; we need gun control that does not strangle gun ownership–but places it within the constraints of intelligent guidelines. Simple things like, “No civilian use of AR15s, or super long gun clips are needed or permitted; no you don’t need a bazooka or an M50; yes we need to know you don’t have a documented history of mental illness before providing you with a gun license.” What constitutes a mental illness?
One leans toward caution in particular areas of concern–any delusion-based or significant mental illness, or serious major drug use…no guns. That means people with a history of meth use, or PCP…they get no guns. Not even pistols. (You use Pot or shrooms, whatever, okay. Those aren’t major drugs in my opinion.)
Even if the killer only had access to pistols without long clips–fewer people would have died that day. That matters.
Is it a Constitutional issue? Look–some people are just gun fetishists. They salivate over them; they live for guns and the more the better. I know many of these people. Well fine–whatever floats your battleship. We have quite a few gun fetishists in this country–and a lot of people who make big bucks feeding their obsession. But the protection of sheer gun fetishism is not an intelligent use of Constitutional law.
And by the way, the libertarian said: ‘This event bears early resemblance to both “lone nutter” and “black-ops hypnokiller” situations…Bye! This is where half the readers roll their eyes and call me a conspiracy theorist’. And yes–that is in fact where I stopped taking the libertarian quite so seriously. Yes that’s conspiracy theory. And that is where our libertarian responder is particularly unhelpful to the families of victims, and to the American people. Conspiracy theory is just more miserable noise, applied to this event. That kind of thing is almost always going to be…simply not the case. Occam’s razor: The killer, in this case, is indeed a lone nut. From what I understand, the lonest…and the tragedy is he was left “alone” to buy his weapons freely…