Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Aurora Shooting–A Surprisingly Quiet Voice

The shooting that took place last week in Aurora, Colorado has revealed a surprisingly quiet voice.

Yes, we have the usual debate that starts up whenever something like this happens – a debate between the people who support the right to bear arms, including guns that can shoot 50+ armor-piercing rounds per minute and the people who want to see guns banned altogether.

Then we have the ridiculous, absurd claims of John Lott, author of “More Guns, Less Crime” who asserts that if more people had guns, then they could defend themselves at events like the Aurora shooting before the police arrive and thus such crimes would become a thing of the past or reduced in devastation.

When one considers such a claim, how many events like the Aurora event, whether it be that event itself, Columbine, Virginia Tech or any other, did we have people who were armed and able to defend themselves against armed assailants?


And besides, the last thing we need is a theater full of untrained people with itchy trigger fingers who hear the wrong sound and just start shooting.

Imagine what that massacre would look like – with no actual assailant and no other reason than a simple mistake that caused everyone to start shooting in all directions.

Truth is, not many of us carry guns to the theater, to school or most places where our day takes us.  Many of these places now have security measures in place where citizens are screened by metal detectors and the like and so they couldn’t have their weapons with them anyway.

The law-abiding ones anyway. 

People who are intent on committing crimes find a way …. just like a certain airline that has a Rome to NYC flight several times a week where weapons are routinely found planted on planes.  No one knows why or how, whether it be  terrorists making plans, terrorists evaluating options or the good guys testing the system.

The point is that people with evil intention will find a way no matter what people believe to the contrary.

The Silent Voice

All that being said, there is a voice that is relatively silent on the matter and I find the silence intriguing.

I’m not hearing a lot of noise one way or the other from law enforcement.

If I were in law enforcement or had a significant attachment to someone in law enforcement, I would feel a level of concern about the types of weapons out there.

Now I know that when law enforcement responds to a call that involves violence, they have to assume the worst is possible when it comes to the weapons they may face.

But there’s a big difference between being prepared for the worst and only facing a 12-gauge shotgun or a hunting rifle versus actually having to deal with a guy in full tactical gear firing a weapon that can penetrate law enforcement body armor.

And when it comes to defending one’s self in a crowded space, one has a better change of surviving or even overcoming the shooter if the shooter is not armed with an assault rifle, capable of having a 100-round drum magazine that shoots armor piercing bullets.

There Will Always Be Violence

It has been said that if we ban guns, then we will have to kill each other with knives, clubs and other messy things.

So people will always kill people, no matter what we give them access to.

However, do we have to make it so easy for them and so difficult for us to defend against?

If people like Lott are to be listened to, it suggests that I need to bring an assault rifle wherever I go in case someone else pulls his or hers out.  I’m not going to bring anything smaller – it would be like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

But if we all start carrying weapons such as that, then it will feel more like 1920’s Chicago than 21st century America.

And it will make the jobs of law enforcement that much more difficult.

Imagine Occupy Wall St. last fall if one had to assume that everyone there had an assault rifle.

We wouldn’t need police to oversee their activity.  We’d need the National Guard.

Why Bother To Change This?

I wonder how President Obama or Mitt Romney would have reacted if someone they knew had been injured there.  Regardless of their personal beliefs, they know that this is a hot potato that they can’t touch.  Their personal needs trump what they may believe to be right for the citizens they allegedly represent.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to shrug off responsibility to make change until we are directly affected by it, after which we can’t make change fast enough.

In a situation like this, why should we wait to make the world a better place for everyone? 

To do nothing suggests that history teaches us that history teaches us nothing.

I’d like to believe that the life of a six year old girl like the one who was killed in Aurora is more important than the paranoia that we each face imminent attack and therefore must defend ourselves against it.

I’d like to believe that politicians and lobbyists would put the safety of citizens above their own personal needs but then again, I gave up believing in Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny so that one may be too much to believe in.

However, I’d like to believe that we can produce a better result than we are producing.

What do you believe?

In service and servanthood,


PS  Some years ago, the administrative assistant for one of my clients went out and got her handgun licence and was carrying the weapon in her purse.

Why did she obtain the weapon?  It was because she was tired of being jostled on the crowded subway in the morning and felt that she needed a deterrent to assert her private space.

Who faces imminent danger in such a situation - the person whose fuse is on slow burn waiting for someone to bump into her or the unfortunate person who stumbles into her by accident?

By the way …. she still carries the weapon on her daily commute …. waiting ……

Addendum: July 25, 2012

I want to be clear that I am NOT against gun ownership.  However, I am against guns designed to kill people en masse (for example, the 100-round drum magazine that the Aurora shooter used) or use ammunition specifically designed to defeat the personal defense systems of law enforcement or military units such as the National Guard.  I would only buy armor piercing ammunition if I knew I needed to pierce armor and currently, such armor is primarily used by the afore mentioned law enforcement groups.

So, if I need to have such ammunition, what does this say about my intentions?

As for everyone carrying guns in public, I still believe that such a policy exposes us to a different kind of problem.  Here is an example of road rage settled by guns that is getting more and more common.  People with guns are more apt to use them if their anger runs hot enough.  It only takes one side of an argument to pull the weapon (even if just as an intimidation) but once that happens, all bets are off - not only for the people carrying the weapons but for any innocent bystanders in the area.

Addendum: July 26, 2012

In fairness to the President, he noted in a speech to the National Urban League in New Orleans on July 25, 2012:

I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminal.

True words.

Now – how do words become action and subsequently policy?

That’s where it really matters!


  1. I believe that the best weapon is our mind, and I believe that people who have physical weaponry, ammunition, devices and armor that can defeat local police should be instantly remanded to custody and psychologically evaluated.

    That brings up the point of "Well, what if the police are using their powers for evil?". The problem is that at some point you have to hope that everyone is going to do the right thing, and that people who do not are anomalies.

    There's more beyond that too if we get into organized crime syndicates and grift but on a normal day, most people are not both crazy and weaponized.

  2. You and I disagree on this one.

    I have a handgun - and I would carry it if it were legal to do so.
    Should your adminsistrative assistant be violently accosted one night after leaving the subway station - she will at least have a chance.

    Should you be able to have a weapon? I see no reason why not. Should you be able to own assault weapons with 100 round drums? Obtain them easily over the internet? And not have to register them. Absolutely not.

    The problem is not guns - its gun control. There IS no gun control down south. THAT'S a HUGE problem.

    I believe one other gun in that theatre may have saved a life that was lost. I believe more than one other gun may have stopped the carnage - and the perpetrator - in his tracks.

    I would rather take my chances with others focused on trying to kill the perpetrator rather than falling over myself and others as the perpetrator shoots at random abandonment into the crowd.

  3. Thanks for weighing in, Christopher.

    My issue with the admin assistant is that she doesn't feel threatened leaving the subway station. Her reason for buying the gun is because people crowd her on the subway and she wants a tool to assert her private space ... a dangerous different reason.

    I am not against gun ownership and so I agree with you that a major issue is the ability to buy weapons with configurations whose sole purpose is to kill people (including law enforcement), especially en masse.

    So I agree 100% that the problem is gun control and not guns.

    It is possible that a gun in the hands of someone else in the theater may have helped. However, I don't know if you noticed that for the next couple of nights after this event, there were gunfire events at different theaters in Florida and other places where people were shooting at each other for reasons unknown (arguments, itchy trigger fingers or some other reason) but no one was trying to take out an assailant.

    The problem with everyone carrying a high end gun in public is that we will settle more arguments with guns ... and may create a new kind of issue.

    Look at the shooting at the Eaton Center a few weeks ago. It wasn't a guy trying to kill people en masse - it was two guys settling an issue and shooting other people in the process.

    The other challenge is that serious mental illness is on the rise and with the ease of getting the people killer variety of guns, things will get more complicated.

    Thanks for weighing in, Christopher. I respect your right to own a weapon. I hope you never have to use it for self defense!

    Take care,


  4. Paul,

    When it comes to the need to buy stuff that is designed to defeat law enforcement, military or anyone else, I agree with you 100%.

    I wouldn't buy a weapon that enabled me to take out law enforcement unless I intended to use it ... and if I have such intention, then my motives (and maybe my sanity) need to be examined.

    Hopefully too many people aren't crazy AND weaponized!

    Thanks for sharing!


  5. Harry:

    I'm a friend of Paul's and he pointed out your blog post to me. I just read it. I've opined the same thing regarding arming everyone and the inane assertions that had others been armed, there'd have been a free-for-all in the dark with everyone shooting everyone. I agree with almost everything you said. The salient difference being, that I really don't believe that anyone should have the "right" to bear arms (and no, I don't care one whit about what's been written on some mouldy document by 18th Century minds). A lot of Americans honestly don't seem to know that in Canada we also have the "right" to bear arms (well it's more of a privilege but the fact remains that we can all have one if we want one). The big fat difference is, very, very, very few of us have or even WANT a gun and we look at those who do want guns a bit askance and we worry about them (and then ourselves, if we live near by). Watching what transpires on your side of the border leaves us speechless and aghast. We manage to kill off 600 to 1000 people a year with guns (if we really put our backs into the effort) whereas the USA does away with over 300 times that many of its citizens on AVERAGE every annum. The very idea that having lots of gun around, letting everyone who wants one have one for the asking and that some banks (a la Bowling for Columbine) actually hand them out with new accounts, is just mind boggling to us. And it doesn't take a whole lot of intelligence to make the connection between "more guns" and "more killings". Yes, there should be bans on 100-round clips and armour piercing rounds - but why stop there? Why does ANYONE in a civilized country NEED a fully automatic weapon, assault rifle, RPG, and etc.? Answer - they don't! And giving people the "right" to own one simply offers the temptation and incentive to do so. This isn't difficult mental gymnastics and I really don't understand why the USA, as a nation, simply doesn't seem to "get it" - at all. It's sad and frightening to those of us observing from outside. You're right, criminals will always find a way and people will continue to kill each other as we have done since Caine and Abel did, so what's new under the sun. At least Caine and Able weren't shooting at each other across a crowded Mall or city street (guns hadn't been invented yet). However, the notion that arming everyone will "prevent" crime or tragedy is evidence of such immature and faulty logic, it's positively laughable when one hears a supposedly intelligent adult say such a thing. Other countries that have much more stringent gun control laws have these problems too (think of Norway) but they're an aberration - not a recurring, increasingly common place, event on the evening news. Sadly, the only people on the planet who can't seem to see this, figure it out, connect the dots or listen to ANY reasoned discourse on the subject are....Americans. David T. Waterloo, Canada