Guns Kill People – Might We Discuss That, Please?
In the hours following the bloody slaughter of innocents in the movie house in Aurora, Colorado, the level of analysis delivered by the pundit and political classes was, even for the United States, unusually ludicrous and mindless. First, Brian Ross of ABC – presumably in a bid to fill the minutes – stated on the air live and unchecked that, “There’s a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea party site talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. We don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes. But it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado” [emphasis added]. Thankfully, he later apologised, but how can this man call himself a journalist and report this as fact whilst hedging with the apologetic footnote, We don’t know?
Minutes later, the always ridiculous Breitbart.com operation attempted to plant its flag in the basin of the swamp when it claimed that Holmes “could be a registered Democrat”. As if his party registration mattered, their so-called evidence consisted of some found documents pertaining to a James Holmes one year older than the actual murderer who happened to live in the same county and had “registered as a Democrat on June 14, 2011”. But again, once his real birth date was revealed, Breitbart.com pulled back, claiming now that “the suspect may, in fact, not have been registered to vote”. The report, it should be noted, was still live on the site as of Friday evening.
And then there’s Louie Gohmert, part of the Gang of Five whose actions against Clinton aide Huma Abedin were so repugnant that even Wolf Blitzer felt the need to call the attacks “McCarthy-like”, adding rather affectingly, “The last time I checked, there was nothing illegal about being a Muslim in America”. Gohmert took to Ernest Istook’s radio show just hours after the killing, and, in answer to the particular question, “What is your experience, with the way we have so many twisted people in our society?”, said this:
We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country… and when… you know… what really gets me as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo- Christian beliefs and then a senseless crazy act of terror like this takes place.
When pressed on this shambling point, with Istook noting that, “We don’t know much about the individual”, Gohmert gave the following incoherent and ill-lettered riposte:
You know, when people say, where was God in all of this? Well, you know, we don’t let… in fact we’ve threatened high school graduation participants that if they use God’s name that they’re going to be jailed, we had a principal of a school, and a superintendent or a coach down in Florida that were threatened with jail because they said the blessing at a voluntary off campus dinner. I mean, that kind of stuff… where is God? Where, where? What have we done with God? We told him that we don’t want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present.
This cannot be serious. It takes an extraordinary level of ignorance, illiteracy, insensitivity, and above all self-delusion, not only to believe such things, but even to contemplate saying them while the cadavers are still warm and the blood has yet to be moped up off the stairwells of the movie theatre.
What is most disappointing, however, is not what people are discussing, but what they refuse to utter. While these talking heads have no difficulty in presenting the unreasonable, they appear unable to contemplate what is sensible, what is provable. Nobody seems to want to talk about the simple proposition that guns kill people – 8,775 in 2011, in fact – and that since the Second Amendment cannot be repealed, it might be sensible to introduce some sort of uniform, federal legislation which curbs access to the most dangerous and destructive weapons, which the aim of reducing the number of citizens killed by guns every way.
For now it’s too soon, of course. It is always too soon to discuss the small matter limiting access to the machines of murder right after a gun-related massacre of this sort. Give it a week, though, and suddenly everybody’s elected to forget, to repress, to move on. We don’t need to talk about that anymore. That’s all in the past. Gun control? Guns don’t kill people – people kill people. But if we’re prohibited from discussing the consequences of lax gun control laws in the days following a firearms-related tragedy, then the country will never talk about it. After all, the Brady Campaign’s list of mass shootings in the United States since 2005 runs as long as 62 pages – at the moment, an act of butchery is occurring at least once a week.
Rather, politicians who favour unrestricted access to killing machines, as well as their handmaidens in the Media and the lobbying industry – all of whom make a living out of never giving the game away – are pre-destined to latch onto the most reductionist and least complex narrative in order to explain away the act of this one individual. Already, comparisons are being made between the actions of Holmes, who entered the screening of the latest Batman epic wearing a gas mask, utilising a smoke canister to confuse and blind, and a bank robbery sequence featuring The Joker in the previous film in the series.
See! the gun lobby will cry, it was Batman all along! Guns don’t kill people – fictitious movies about superheroes kill people. Don’t restrict access to guns – restrict access to costumes. It is the duty of those who favour artistic pluralism, improved gun regulation, and above all empiricism and common sense to push back against this farcical notion. The Dark Knight Rises must not be allowed to morph into another video nasty, another Marilyn Manson. The solution to America’s gun lust and chain of freakish shootings will not be found in stripping America’s cinemas of a motion picture or removing every album with moody lyrics from the shelves of Barnes & Noble.
So can we not talk about that, please? Might we discuss that while in 2002, 14 people in the United Kingdom, 47 in Japan, 59 in Australia, 144 in Canada, and 269 in Germany were murdered with firearms, 9,369 lives were terminated via the same method in the United States?
Might we reveal that, in Arizona for example – the state where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a lone, crazed marksman – there are in essence no restrictions upon the procurement and concealment of handguns, to the extent that the Brady Campaign gave it 0 out of 100 points for the toughness of its laws?
And might the proposition finally be forwarded that firearm deaths are “significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation”? and act in accordance this discovery, so that scores more need not die needlessly in pursuit of ever more negligent rules regarding the control of gun ownership. Or will it always be too soon?