By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
It won’t be easy to tell fact from fiction while we’re in the midst of a media storm over the movie theatre massacre in Colorado. I expect the feeding frenzy will probably slow down in the next month or so, or when something more sensational comes along.
For starters; fact or fiction? The Colorado movie massacre is the worst in American history. Most (I didn’t say all) mass media markets claim it is. The criterion used appears to be the total number of people shot (killed + wounded). If more writers, editors, and bloggers had taken the time to really investigate, they would have found that’s not true.
The worst case of civilian-on-civilian gun violence in our history was the Colfax Massacre of 1873, where more than 100 people were killed.
However, when the majority claim it’s the worse case of violence against civilians, not only do they ignore the Colfax killings, but they leave out state violence against civilians. If we want to look at the facts, the worst mass shootings of civilians have been perpetrated by groups of heavily armed men in officially sanctioned killings.
There’s no ignoring that most of these massacres targeted Native Americans and African Americans. We may not have that long a history as a country, but we certainly seem to have a national case of amnesia when it comes to massacres of civilians.
The second aspect of a horrific shooting incident like the one in Aurora, Colorado is the political one. Gun control advocates seize on such incidents as a reason for stricter gun control. The NRA doesn’t see it that way and is quick to resist any law that might infringe their member’s Second Amendment rights.
The scene is set for more half-truths on both sides, as each cites information favorable to their position. Statistics can go either way, depending upon who gathers them.
I can see both sides of this argument. Why does a person need an M&P Smith & Wesson AR-15 (or similar semi-automatic rifle) with 100 round drums? James Holmes, the shooter at the movie house had one, along with a shotgun and a couple of handguns for good measure.
Weapons like the M&P Smith & Wesson AR-15 are not designed for hunters. They are made for firefights with other humans. What’s next? Bazookas? Some common sense needs to be applied to current gun laws, adjusting them to reflect the reality of the weaponry available today.
On the other side, the NRA argues that we have the right to bear arms. The NRA’s stance is that any tightening of current gun laws will set a precedent that won’t stop until all types of guns are banned.
The bottom line is that nothing is going to change because of the movie massacre in Colorado. It’s an election year, so get used to the rhetoric from people on both sides of the issue.
To go a step further, the reason I predict no new laws will result from this tragedy, is the shift toward more permissive gun laws in recent years. Republicans and the NRA have used gun rights as a wedge issue in elections very effectively.
While some Democrats remain ardent proponents of stricter gun control, conservative Democrats have deflected the issue by embracing Second Amendment rights on the campaign trail.
The administration’s reluctance to push for tighter gun laws reflects how far the political debate over gun owners' rights has shifted in the past two decades. So, despite all the calls for change you’ll hear in the news, it’ll be business as usual.
It was hypocritical of President Obama, and Mitt Romney, to make a show of “not campaigning” briefly to recognize the loss of lives (twelve victims) in the rampage.
You know why? Twenty-five people (on average according to FBI statistics) are killed daily with guns. Why just recognize a dozen on a given day?
In a way, it’s like the movie “Ground Hog Day” where the same things happen day-after-day. In this case, after every sensational shooting, there’s a media circus and the political pundits clash over gun control.
I’m not demeaning the slaughter that took place in that movie house by bringing up these ramifications, and I’m certainly not ignoring the very human element involved. No words can adequately describe the horror or the sorrow.
As It Stands, in the end we must all realize that a single shooter (especially one who keeps to himself) can’t be stopped by any law if he is determined enough.
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