Reopening the dialogue on guns

Once again our nation is shocked and saddened by another senseless multiple killing by a gunman whose aim seems to be little more than a need for attention. While James Holmes is certainly getting a lot of attention on television, radio and in print for opening fire in a Colorado movie theater, the one thing that may come out of this is a rethinking of the debate on the ease of which these mass murderers can get their hands on firearms and ammunition.

The problem is everything that Holmes did was perfectly legal, from his purchase of multiple firearms from legitimate dealers to buying thousands of rounds of ammunition over the internet. Unfortunately, even an instant background check is not going to show what it was that blackened Holme’s soul. Up to that point he hadn’t done anything to bring his intentions to light – although he had dropped out of a doctorate program in neuroscience, according to all reports he had been a bright undergraduate student. And dropping out of college usually doesn’t lead to this kind of reaction.
With all the talk about Assault Weapons not being for hunting, there’s little doubt the framers of the Constitution weren’t thinking about hunting when they wrote the Second Amendment. They had in mind the ability of the people, through militias, to fight off opposing armies – of course they never imagined a day when someone with a modern semi-automatic firearm could take on a whole regiment of troops armed with muskets. So, any discussion of gun control is going to have to go deeper than the hunting analogy and cut right into the Second Amendment. So far those who favor gun control haven’t been willing to go that far and until then it looks like we’ll be maintaining the status quo and continue to accept that we are not safe at any time from someone who has legally obtained these kinds of weapons and wants to randomly inflict death and sorrow.
The irony of our article on Tonasket PD’s school shooting drill appearing in last Thursday’s G-T and the events that same day in Colorado were not lost on those of us at the newspaper. The article itself spurred conversations on what a good thing it was that the Tonasket police and other law enforcement were trying to be proactive when it comes to dealing with a crisis like a school shootings. However, we weren’t sure how that would translate in a case like they had in Colorado. While all of us believe the one place our children should feel safe and secure outside of the home is while at school, it makes one wonder about whether any of us can feel safe, even while at the mall or in a movie theater or just walking down the street.
Would reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban have stopped Holmes? Probably not, but it may have kept the death toll down. There is going to be a lot said about this tragic incident in the next few weeks and maybe even months. But like the shooting in Arizona last year where 18 were shot and six were killed and then Congresswoman Gabby Gifford was gravely injured, the cries for stricter gun control laws and stricter penalties will soon fade, until the next madman seeks attention by going on a killing spree.
With cities and counties facing dwindling budgets and cutting back on law enforcement, we can’t always rely on the police to keep us safe – with the easy availability of this kind of firepower, in most cases, they can only react after the fact anyway.
Let’s hope that if one thing comes from this senseless act, it is a reopening of the dialogue on what can be done to prevent these incidents in the future. It seems hopeless, as if the two sides of the debate on gun control will never agree to even sit down and discuss the issue and that the gun lobby is too strong, but maybe something good will come of it – but we’re not holding our breath.