Would Stricter Gun Laws Have Done Anything To Prevent Colorado Killing Spree?

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As the entire country tries to make sense of what happened in Colorado last week, the obligatory debate whenever one of these mass shootings occurs has commenced: would stricter gun laws have prevented 24-year-old James Holmes from marching into a sold out movie theater and shooting more than 70 people?

To quote Eric "Otter" Stratton in a little film called "Animal House," "I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part!" And no one better to do it than New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is using the tragic shooting to push his anti-gun agenda, while completely ignoring the actual problem: Holmes -- like many rampage shooters before him -- is clearly seriously mentally ill.

Bloomberg appeared on CBS' Face the Nation over the weekend where he used the Colorado shooting to urge presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to get behind his push for stricter gun laws nationwide.

"Expressing sympathy is nice . . . but somebody's got to do something about this," Bloomberg said. "And this requires, particularly in a presidential year, the candidates for president of the United States to stand up and once and for all say, yes, they feel terrible. Yes, it's a tragedy. Yes, we have great sympathy for the families, but it's time for this country to do something. And that's the job of the president of the United States."

Now, we're not gun people -- we couldn't care less how hard it is to buy a gun. But despite gun ownership being a right specifically addressed in the Constitution (as outdated as it may be), the Colorado shooting isn't a gun issue -- as we mentioned, it's a mental illness issue.

Aside from the guns and hundreds of rounds of ammo Holmes used to carry out his murderous plot, his apartment also was rigged with explosives that potentially could have wiped out anyone who walked through the door -- and the only reason they didn't is because Holmes told police his apartment was essentially a bomb waiting to go off. In other words, if Holmes wanted to kill a lot of people, he probably could have done it regardless of how hard Bloomberg wants to make it to buy a gun.

Sure, Holmes' access to legal firearms probably made it easier for him to carry out the attack, but -- as we know here in New York -- getting your hands on illegal guns isn't much of a chore, and despite the mayor's desire to rid the planet of guns, it 'ain't gonna happen.

Whenever one of these types of shooting tragedies happen, the anti-gun crowd goes crazy calling for tougher laws. Simultaneously, gun nuts use the senseless killings to call for more guns in the hands of citizens so they can protect themselves in case something like what happened in Colorado ever happens to them.

Guns, however, are a cop out -- an easy direction to point the finger in an effort to make sense of what happened. The root of the problem -- identifying and treating mental illness before madmen go off the deep end -- always seems to take a back seat.

That, of course, is our opinion -- we want to know what you think, though: would stricter gun laws have done anything to prevent the Colorado shooting rampage?

Cast your vote below.




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32 comments
theranthrope
theranthrope

I'm glad someone a the VV is sane; in identifying that this isn't a gun-control issue: it's a MENTAL-HEALTH issue. This kid was off, his mom knew he was off, waaaay-off, but his depression and other mental-health issues were left  unevaluated, and thus, untreated. Screaming for gun-control, in this specific, case is opportunistic, creepy and utterly heartless.

hmmmom
hmmmom

holmes was able to buy ammunition over the internet..wth???

 

why make it easier for criminals to get their hands on weaponry? ...gun control!

tonyspdx
tonyspdx

I think everybody should start using plastic knives.  I think you might go nuts one day and stab the guy on the corner because he looks funny. Lets get rid of all the taxi's because you cant trust the driver, he might go nuts and crash his car into somebody.  Knives and cars kill more people in the US then guns.  Don't label me, you don't even know me.

vito33
vito33

As you say in this article, there are already more guns in circulation in the US than anyone could ever want. If you have the money and know who to talk to, you can get one. So given the fact that you're never going to stop a madman no matter how strict the purchase laws, the laws that should be passed should have to do with stricter PENALTIES for gun crime. For example:

 

Get caught with an illegal gun - 25 years, no parole.

Carrying a legal gun without a license to carry - 25 years, no parole.

Have a gun in your possession while committing  a crime - Life, no parole.

 

We wouldn't have to build more prisons, just stop locking people up for smoking weed, etc.

 

After about six months, you'd see a tremendous drop in gun violence.

 

 

Actor
Actor

 

"... we couldn't care less how hard it is to buy a gun."

 

"Sure, Holmes' access to legal firearms probably made it easier for him to carry out the attack..."

 

I'm truly astonished at the lack of logic displayed by supposed educated citizens of the USA when it comes to guns. WTF is wrong with you?! You're sensitive as hell about sex, an everyday activity, but someone shoots up a cinema with a FCKNG ASSAULT RIFLE THAT WAS LEGALLY PURCHASED WITHOUT RAISNG ANY FLAGS and we get articles like this?! There was more outrage about Janet Jackson's tits! News Flash: Janet Jackson's tits didn't kill anyone!

 

Look Mr King, are you familiar with the Socratic method? Good. Try to follow me:

 

Do you think nuclear weapons should be available for purchase?

 

No? Agreed.

 

Do you think knives should be available for purchase?

 

Yes? Agreed.

 

Somewhere between those two weapons there must be a line that delineates weapons the state ought to ATTEMPT to control. If you think that line is above assault rifles then I can say two things about you with certainty:

 

You have never suffered the loss of a loved one to a gunshot.

 

You're a dick.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

This maniac -- like Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson -- was the "LAW ABIDING GUN OWNER" that the NRA and gun loons everywhere are always spouting about.

 

They are all "law abiding" ... right up to the moment they pull the trigger !

 

200,000,000 Guns in the U$A is NOT ENOUGH! ... America Needs MORE GUNS !!

 

If nothing else, for protection from the "Law Abiding Gun Owners" ... once they decide to no longer abide by the laws.

 

HTH.

jonathan.nyc
jonathan.nyc topcommenter

Mental illness has been a problem throughout history.  

 

This piece doesn't contain even a hint of a suggestion about what do to about it.  The argument is entirely abstract.  

 

asterios9
asterios9

I love this logic.  As soon as someone takes a legally obtained weapon and does something illegal with it, they are magically excluded from the pool of innocent, law-abiding gun purchasers who will be victimized by restrictions on their mail-order automatic weapons and handguns.  It's sort of like the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.

 

Fact is, some people use their legally obtained guns to shoot up public places, kill estranged spouses, and/or blow their own brains out (often to escape culpability for other things, hardly a victimless crime.)  The pool of legal gun owners contains BOTH the hobbyist who wants to shoot at the range and feel "safe" AND the dickwad who is someday going to kill somebody.  The rights of the former don't actually trump our right to be protected from the latter.

 

At least this time around we are spared that other popular NRA meme, the "if more people were packing we'd be safer" argument, since for some reason it is clearly over the line to suggest people should bring guns to the movies.

carol344
carol344

It's not that simple. YES, this is a mental health issue, clearly. However, it seems equally clear to me that if we can monitor and create a stricter laws that make it difficult and illegal to purchase specific guns and ammo, I have to believe we will see less carnage.

someguy1
someguy1

Pretty sure it's a fact that gun related deaths are inversely correlated with gun control measures. Compare any other country with stricter rules, or US states with different rules.

tmqur89
tmqur89

If Holmes had not been able to purchase materials for his rampage online, and if he had not been able to procure an assault rifle and thousands of rounds of ammunition, would his rampage have been less deadly? If he had been armed only with a shotgun and a pistol, would less people have been hurt?

 

Unless your brain is disconnected, the answer to these questions is obvious to everyone. 

Aurorion
Aurorion

There are crazy people everywhere. In every country on earth there would be a few insane people who would want to go on murderous rampages like this. The difference between America and most other countries in this regard is only that in America, it is extremely easy for such "mentally ill" people to get deadly weapons.

 

I am not an American. I belong to a country with much stricter weapon-control laws, and I am thankful for that. A crazy person in my country who wants to go on a killing spree would have to make do with a kitchen knife or an ax or a cricket bat. And therefore, incidents of the scale of Columbine/Aurora massacres very rarely occur in my country.

 

Americans seem to be crazy about their guns. This is something I don't understand at all - citizens of a developed country being so passionate about gun ownership. To me, it sounds just like uneducated Afghan or African warlords who are crazy about bazookas and grenades.

 

Americans: if you want to have easy access to guns and other deadly weapons, remember that even the crazy ones among you would have the same privileges. Do you really love your guns so much that you are willing to let massacres like Columbine and Aurora happen in your country again and again?

Sanddancer
Sanddancer

I really love all the anti-gun hysteria. Especially considering that the shooter had his apartment booby-trapped with a significant amount of explosives. The guy was nuts, and was actively using several different methods to kill as many people as he could. Taking away his guns would have just meant he'd have concentrated on one of his other methods.

Aurorion
Aurorion

 @theranthrope I belong to a country where it's *much* more difficult for people to get guns. So people with MENTAL-HEALTH issues in my country who want to go kill a lot of people will have to settle for knives or axes or cricket bats. Hence the damage they end up doing is much lesser too.

 

And people who say that gun control will only prevent law-abiding people from carrying guns and that it will not affect the supply of illegal firearms have no idea. Go visit some country with saner weapon laws and you will see that with tight control over distribution of weapons, the supply drastically reduces in both the legal and black markets - so even the bad guys would find it a lot more difficult to get access to weapons.

theranthrope
theranthrope

 @hmmmom Well, you see... child; you may not know this, but criminals as a rule; DON'T OBEY THE LAW. The laws you call for will only prevent those who wish to obey the law from doing so.  Also, did prohibition stop booze from flowing during the 20s? Does the war on drugs stop pot use today? In either case, the law didn't stop shit, and as an unintended consequence made ridiculous amounts of money for those willing to provide it; the Mob in the 20s and the cartels today, turning both into unstoppable monsters.

theranthrope
theranthrope

 @vito33 ...as opposed to the "use a gun go to jail" minimum sentencing guidelines that are already on the books (because tying a judge's hands when it comes to issuing JUST sentences is ALWAYS a good idea), and have been found to not affect gun violence statistics in the slightest either way. You're not knowledgeable about the this subject, at all, are you? ...but you have an opinion, despite that, you precious and unique snowflake.

theranthrope
theranthrope

 @Actor Neither have you, I'm assuming. You're just another precious and unique snowflake, with an opinion on the internet, but not troubled in the least of your lack of knowledge in that subject.

theranthrope
theranthrope

 @DonkeyHotay That's as much good as when a theoretical LAW ABIDING CAR OWNER  gets drunk and has a head-on collision with a theoretical bus full of nuns, theoretically killing all in the accident. You go (opportunistically) screaming SHOULDA WOULDA COULDA after the tragedy to ban SOMETHING, but what do you intend to do: outlaw the booze, outlaw the car, or outlaw the nuns? All the of elements the accident were legal INDIVIDUALLY ...until they were combined: it's legal to drink booze, it's legal to drive, but it's illegal to drink and drive. It's legal to own guns, It's legal to use guns (safely), but it's illegal to use guns on people (unless you're a cop...). Deal with it! Not even Sen. Reid(D-NV) wants to put gun control on the table this year. Your vulture-like opportunistic whining for gun-control won't bring back the dead and helps NO-ONE

vito33
vito33

 @DonkeyHotay And remember at the Giffords shooting, the only guy around with a legal license to carry came around the corner and... Almost shot the wrong guys! He almost shot the Samaritans who were restraining Loughner.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @jonathan.nyc 

 

-- Should Mentally Ill People be allowed to Possess Firearms ??

 

 

gold
gold

I live in VA.  Am ex mil, a lawyer, a former New Yorker.  I carry permit-concealed, not all the time,  but often.  Movie theaters in VA used to have "no guns" on their entry.  Not any more.  Letter campaign: the sign tells the perps that no one is armed, thus all are fair game. Sign gone.  These perps, mental or not, act when they think they will not face opposition.  Common sense: always look for the fire exits in a theater.  As to NY crime stats, do not compare over-policed Manhattan with the other four boroughs where the gates make it look like baghdad.  ALso, if M. B loomberg goes out, he has armed guards - even if he went to a plebian movie theater.  He has armed guards at Lincoln Center when he goes to the Met Opera.   Why didn't anyone in that big, big theater have the means to fight back?  Think it over.  Plenty of ex-mils are in universities on GI Bill, they shop, they eat, they go to movies.  Was there a "no firearms" sign on that moviehouse door?  Even if you don't carry concealed (legally) never go to a place that says "no guns."  It says something else to perps.  They love it. 

bryan.bashaw
bryan.bashaw

@carol344 Which guns and ammo would you prohibit?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @Sanddancer 

 

How effective were his "other methods" ?

 

Hint: ZERO deaths, ZERO injuries.

 

Guess why?

asterios9
asterios9

 @theranthrope Here's the problem with the car analogy.  Cars have utility - they are pretty essential to the modern world.  If people merely wanted cars for the same reason they want guns (#1 they are cool and fun to drive and #2 when the time comes they'll help me run away from the people I imagine are coming to get me) of course they'd get banned - they'd be seen as this crazy, self-indulgent product that allowed people to hurtle around in public space unsafely and run over other people.  There is no way the public would tolerate the vehicular fatality rate that exist today if there were not overriding factors that justify the use of cars. 

 

However, very few people actually *need* guns, and handguns have no use other than to shoot people.  That's why, to those of us who aren't gun nuts, severely restricting ownership and carry permits makes nothing but sense. 

jonathan.nyc
jonathan.nyc topcommenter

 @DonkeyHotay The article didn't explicitly say that.  Of course, it didn't explicitly say much of anything.

 

Screening gun owners for mental illness is a form of gun regulation.  Is this what the author wants?  No way to know, everything is so vague.

asterios9
asterios9

 @gold Aaaaand there it is.  

 

"do not compare over-policed Manhattan with the other four boroughs where the gates make it look like baghdad"

 

Dude, what the fuck are you talking about.  Have you been to Brooklyn in the last decade?  It's the suburbs, gentrified like crazy.  NYC stats that show us as the safest big city in the US don't just count Manhattan, it's for the whole fucking place.

 

You gun guys really do live in a fantasy world.

theranthrope
theranthrope

 @DonkeyHotay Ask the Japanese about sarin gas... completely harmless! ...unless used on people by crazy cultists.

gold
gold

Let's see, subway crime in NYC is up 22% this year, 2012, and general crime in  NYC is up for the past three years.  IBTimes, NYC.  Prospect Park at night is such a delight.  Was in NYC in Feb with no weapons at all.  Manhattan was better than ever, clean lit, great.  Brooklyn Heights is Manhattan annex due to the overflow acros the bridges, but venture a little further out, no not to the 100's off Atlantic, but further away from Manhattan.  Take the 6 from Grand Central out to Parkchester in the Bronx.  Follow the trend.  Who do you suppose pays for the lovely streets and low real estate taxes of Manhattan?  The other boroughs.  So, who really owns the streets around Prospect Park at night?  Why are there common signs to report violent crime anonimously to an 800 number? Ever wonder how much is never reported? Voice readers from back when remember the Village was a dump on the east side and right through Washingotn Sq, picking up a lot in the West Village.  I recall it was 1976 or so that the cops went to work on Washington Sq Park., very rough work, but it was successful. Now the whole village is far, far better, and Soho is vibrant.  The Old Morgan Bank on Wall is condos.  Manhattan.  DIsney.  Take a stroll by the Bronx Zoo on a pleasent evening, if you dare.  Been to Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse lately?  Cruise along  Brooklyn's Myrtle by the park at night. Where are the people? Look around, it's a big city.  That's why I chose a long time ago to live in VA, where, of late, there are a lot of New Yorkers.  But Manhattan has never been better. Life is not about guns; just keep your wits turned on no matter where you are.  And stay off the subway if you use Ipods. Did some research. It is illegal to have a concealed weapons permit in Aurora, CO.  The perp knew the theater was unarmed.  Also, I have read that he allegedly left his apartment door unlocked, music blaring, booby trapped, just waiting for a noise complaint and an innocent cop to walk in - and set the building off.  All the cops would have been at the building, none at the movies.  A very evil plan.  He knew there would be no opposition in the theater except maybe, maybe an off duty fed or cop.  Welcome to no-gun Aurora. 

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