The right to own a gun did not cause the Aurora massacre

The horrific events at the July 20, 2012 midnight opening of Batman “The Dark Knight Rises” will be forever etched in our collective memory. At the latest count, 12 people have died and 58 are wounded. Details are yet unfolding. As of now, the entire country is sending their love to the victims and their families in terms of attention, a wide range of feelings, and generous gestures. Personally, my own heart also goes out to the victims and their families. I am saddened and angered by what happened. Though I know there is no amount of punishment that will suffice, I do hope justice is meted out swiftly and harshly. The trial has not yet happened, but there is little doubt the shooter was James Holmes, and I will add his name to the list of murderous monsters who have gone before him.

Monster James Holmes, and other criminals, are not like typical, law-abiding gun owners. James Holmes is not the kind of person our founding fathers were thinking about when they wrote the Second Amendment to the Constitution. A simple explanation of the Second Amendment is here. A more thorough treatment is here. In the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment right to own and bear arms is considered a basic freedom, just as important as the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to privacy, the right to assemble, etc. The ideas that make up our Constitution are precisely why we enjoy enviable freedoms and what makes our country great. When a person thinks he or she is smarter than the founding fathers, and could draft a better Constitution, I doubt it. And when a person compares a criminal monster like James Holmes to a law-abiding citizen gun owner, I believe he or she is essentially wrong.

When a tragedy such as the one in Aurora happens, as they inevitably will, attention is always directed at the idea of gun ownership. The fear and anger relate to the false assumption that more gun ownership leads to more violence and death. In fact, the percentage of people who own a gun has remained fairly stable over time. This October, 2011 Gallup report gives some interesting statistics, breaking the numbers down into various demographics. Most interesting to me is that though Republicans owning guns outnumber Democrats, there is still a sizable number of Democratic households that admit to owing a gun. But if there indeed has been a rise in the absolute number of guns out there, I would not be shocked or surprised, or worried.

I would not be worried because the other part of the assumption, that there is more violence and death, is just wrong. The data that is summarized in this article comes from various sources including the FBI. If one examines the rate of violent crime and homicide for the past 20 years, one sees a steadily diminishing trend.

The Aurora massacre was the work of a deranged monster named James Holmes. He is not the first such monster and will not be the last. He certainly does not exemplify the typical, law-abiding gun owner. Facts do not support the idea that our Second Amendment right to own a gun increases the rate of violence and death.

I am proud to support our Constitution, as wisely defined by our founding fathers. I am glad and grateful for the rights and freedoms we enjoy, for which others have fought. I am against forces that aim to limit my rights and freedoms. I am proud to live in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave!

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  • Flag Gazer July 24, 2012 at 12:38 AM

    Well said!

  • Comedy Plus July 24, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    You are right on the money here Ferd. I feel the exact same way. I have many guns as you do and I am in fact a law abiding citizen, just like you and Princess Gail.

    Excellent post and have a terrific day. Big hug to you and Princess Gail :)

    • Ferd August 3, 2012 at 10:04 PM

      Thanks, Sandee!
      And a big hug back to you and Zane. We’ll make it a group hug! ;-)

  • Chris Mossing July 25, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    Every year about 10,000 people in America are killed with guns. This puts the USA in about 6 or 7th place in the world in terms of murders per capita committed with firearms. The countries ahead of us in the category are generally countries facing drug or racial wars such as South Africa, Honduras, Mexico, etc. Naturally countries with much stricter gun control laws such as Germany and Japan are way down on the list.

    Yes, citizens do have the right to bear arms, but I don’t think the Founding Fathers meant that citizens like Holmes could amass 6,000 rounds of ammunition, easily purchased over the Internet, nor did they mean that citizens could own assault weapons like the one Holmes used. Nor grenades or other bombs that he had in his apartment.

    About 11 years ago, “only” 2900 people died in the 9-11 attacks, yet every time I travel by air I have to take off my shoes, watch, belt, and be subject to humiliating pat downs. If I remember right, only one guy was thinking about blowing up a plane after 9-11 by putting a makeshift bomb in his shoes. He was not successful. Yet, we must remove our shoes to board a plane.

    And, we have to have all computers taken out of our bags to be scanned because about 200 people died on a Pan Am flight where a radio, not a PC, had a bomb implanted in it over 20 years ago.

    If we are ready to impose these violations on our 1st Amendment rights to free expression and travel on EVERY law-abiding citizen who would never even think of blowing up a plane, then why is it so difficult for Americans to come up with reasonable constraints on guns such as limiting ammunition sales, banning assault weapons, preventing felons from ever buying guns, limiting gun shows, minors obtaining guns (think Columbine) etc?

    And, that is what I am asking: If we are so worried about stopping another terrorist attack that might only kill a few hundred, or maybe worst case, a few thousand people that we use reasonable measures at our airports, then why can’t we do the same for guns which kill more than 3 times the number of people killed on 9-11, every year?

    • Ferd August 3, 2012 at 10:43 PM

      Chris! My old friend! Great to see you in this space!

      I’m not “ready to impose these violations on our 1st Amendment rights to free expression.” In fact, I don’t think taking off my shoes, watch and belt amount to that at all. They are merely a nuisance. And if that’s what it takes to keep me safe while flying, I will put up with it. You can exert your right to express yourself with your shoe, watch and belt wear the other 99.999999% of your life. LOL! More to the point, we are still free to fly! And if you can’t handle those “humiliating pat downs,” you also have the choice to NOT fly! Or, here’s another option for you: You can buy your own plane and avoid a lot of this “violation” and “humiliation.” But man, if you’re going to fly in someone else’s plane, they get to make the rules!

      Yes, there are “countries with much stricter gun control laws such as Germany and Japan,” and they don’t enjoy exactly the same freedoms we do in the USA. Yes, we are a little wild over here. Around the world, we have a reputation for that, and are sometimes even considered obnoxious and rude. The flip side of that is that we are also energetic, creative, innovative, trend-setting and entrepreneurial. It’s all part of the American spirit, and I for one will not apologize for it! The Constitutional freedoms we enjoy are the essence of our American spirit. If we compromise those freedoms, we compromise our own tough, pioneering, cowboy American spirit. I’m proud of that spirit. I’m proud of our America! – But, if you like Germany and Japan so much, maybe you should consider moving there. ;-)

      Chris, I actually agree with you about the assault rifles, though. I can’t envision a scenario where one would need a weapon like this to defend oneself or property. Other firearms suffice for those purposes. Assault rifles are also not your guns of choice for hunting or target shooting. They probably do have more negatives than positives, and I could accept restriction of these weapons. We aren’t allowed to own nuclear weapons, or grenade launchers, or fully automatic weapons. The line could be drawn at assault rifles. Certainly there’s room for debate.

      Chris, again, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate and respect your thoughts.

  • finding pam July 25, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    Ferd, I agree with you totally about gun ownership. I don’t worry about the average gun owner, but rather the illegal gun owner that does not know how to properly operate and carry a gun. These people give gun ownership a bad name.

    I see it everyday in our local news about punks that are not law abiding citizens killing a child via stray bullet. Last night’s news said a man was in Wal-mart at the check out. When he went to pay for his items, he pulled the trigger of his hand gun in his pocket and shot himself in the foot. The bullet ricocheted from the concrete floor and hit a mother and her daughter in the leg. I don’t think limiting gun control will help.

    While I am sick of hearing these stories, I don’t want to loose my right to gun ownership.

    • Ferd August 3, 2012 at 10:49 PM

      Thanks for your comments, Pam. There will always be idiots and bad people, and that makes it necessary to have laws and police. But we law-abiding citizens shouldn’t have to give up our own rights and freedoms.