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!