Obama, Romney and the Political Silence of Gun Control

On Friday, America witnessed true terror on the television - in Aurora, Colorado, over 70 people were shot by a madman at a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. James Eagan Holmes, the suspect now in custody, had been planning the attack for months and, inside of his apartment yesterday, police authorities discovered a mini-arsenal of other deadly weapons. 

At the attack, he carried with him an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, shotgun and .40-caliber handgun along with thousands of clips to reload. As we mentioned yesterday, all of these murder weapons were bought legally.

Now, with a mass shooting like this, we are struck with an opportunity. Like the horrific events at Columbine and Virginia Tech, the country has this mirror moment, when we see our dark side in the reflection of the screen. Holmes's grin and the tears of victims' relatives are reminders of where we went wrong; the thought that our society could produce such a maniacal member bent on killing his own in cold blood. And the incredibly easy and legal gateway he was able to use to perform this atrocity.

As President Obama and Mitt Romney travel across the country, pausing their campaigns to reflect on exactly what happened that late night in the Midwestern state, they are both offered the same mirror moment we are. Except they have the power to make a difference; unfortunately, it doesn't look that chance will be taken any time soon.

Since the shootings, both candidates running for the Oval Office have gone with the silent treatment on gun control. Instead, Obama asked for a moment of silence, rushing back to D.C. to lower the flags to half-mass and now en route to Aurora, while Romney labeled the event "a hateful act." The four month countdown until Election Day has begun and, in politics, that's all that matters.

Every politician treads ever so lightly with gun control; ironic, given that it is one policy area that can produce the deadliest byproducts, as we have seen this week. With the lobbying power of the NRA and the insane sensitivity of every hardcore gun owner in this country, pols on the Hill are scared that an 'extreme' stance on guns - in other words, 'safety' - will scare off the two control factors in politics: the money and the voter. Hence why Obama and Romney are keeping to themselves; as Don Kettl of the University of Maryland told Bloomberg Businessweek, "There are more downside risks than upside gains in talking about it."

For Romney, things were different when he wasn't campaigning for the White House: as Governor of Massachusetts, he enacted a ban on assault-style weapons. (Add that to the policy list of 'The Romney We Used to Know,' along with widespread care for the sick and abortion rights). Rather than acting like a President, he is behaving like an immature girlfriend. And that's a damn shame.

As for the incumbent, the NRA and the rest of the far-right has always complained that Obama will take away their guns. Because of his silence on the whole weapons issue for the past three years, we have a President that is proving to be the most NRA-friendly in recent years. In politics, silence is not deadly.

Once again, we will lose this enormous opportunity to reset our gun laws and start afresh. We will let another terrific event pass us by without ensuring ourselves that it will never happen again. And, before an election for the highest throne in the country, this opportunity's value is multiplied ten fold. So, let's start acting like citizens and bring noise to this all too quiet issue. We'll let the Mayor of New York City speak for us:

"It's time for both of them to be called, held accountable. You know, we spend all our time talking about tax returns, and gaffes, and things like that. This is one of those issues, along with a handful of others, that really matter to the American public. It matters to the future of our country, it matters to you and me and to our children and grandchildren. And it's time I think that we hold them accountable and say, 'Okay, you want our votes? What are you going to do?'"


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Now hear this. Americans WILL NOT be denied their constitutionally-guaranteed right to arms, as defined in U.S. v. Miller and cited in D.C. v. Heller, i.e. pistols and rifles in common use that have legitimate utility for militia duty. America knows it, and you statist can go piss up a rope. It AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN.


The criminals will get whatever weapons they need or want because, by definition, they ignore laws meant to control them. The only people laws affect are those who would not be likely to do something like this in the first place. The tool is just that, a tool, the real problem is people with no conscience. If he had rigged his car to explode and driven into the theater, likely killing and injuring many more, would we now be calling for "car control"? Punish the actor, not the tool.


I'm so glad no-one I love was killed with that AR-15 assault rifle. I love the AR-15 assault rifle you see, and I would have been forced to seriously reconsider my feelings about that sexy and efficient killing tool had I suffered a devastating loss like the anonymous people I don't know or care about in Colorado. I really think that not being related to the victim of an AR-15 assault rifle is crucial in maintaining one's love for it, and for our inalienable right to bear arms such as the AR-15 assault rifle, which I think should be in every household across this great land of ours. 


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 crazy 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. 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. To me, it sounds just like crazy Afghan or African warlords who are crazy about bazookas and grenads.


Americans: if you want to have easy access to them, 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?


The tough thing though is to measure how many lives are saved by guns each year, vs. how many are taken.  That's particularly difficult given that the loss of life from a gun is a very obvious and objective thing, whereas the judgement as to whether a life was saved by a gun can range from almost objectively obvious to quite subjectively amorphous depending on the context.


I don't understand why the average citizen would need a bullet proof vest or assault guns. Seriously. Also shouldn't there be a stop gap somewhere when people are buying shitloads of weapons and rounds? We have a system in place for controlled substances. Why can't we do that for guns? I realize that people will never want to give up guns because this argument has gone on and on. But why shouldn't there be some reviews of who is buying what and how much? Are you going to tell me that benzos are more dangerous than guns? Benzos at least may have a medical purpose when not abused. Guns, for the most part, outside of shooting ranges, are for killing or injuring.


 @ldsgeek I agree with you sir. Laws that make the obtaining of assault rifles more difficult than the obtaining of a pint of milk are pointless. Why, here in my country we consider all tools to be equal; pliers, knives, cars, AR-15 assault rifles, thermonuclear warheads - all tools are created equal according to the responsible politicians my countrymen elect. It's these bloody criminals that take the fun out of it for the rest of us - one minute they're law abiding citzens and the next they're legally purchasing assault rifles and shooting up a cinema! Sheesh!


Well, at least they caught this latest actor suddenly turned criminal. Now we'll be able to punish him! I for one think that punishing him will bring great comfort to those who are in mourning. 


My pinko leftist French cousin keeps telling me that in Europe it is very unlikely one will be shot by an assault rifle while attending lectures or seeing a movie, and that the primary reason for this is due to the controls established around the dissemination of tools considered a fraction too lethal for legal sale. That's why going to the movies in France is so damn dull. 


Now if you'll excuse me, my girlfriend just broke up with me via SMS and I have decided to become a criminal by killing as many people as I can to teach her a lesson. You kinda inspired me with your car bomb rigging idea, but then I realised that would take a whole lotta time and effort and have instead decided to simply purchase a trusty AR-15 from my local cafe. After all, if I can't kill people real soon my murderous impulses may be diluted and then no-one will end up dead. Where's the fun in that?!


Thank the Lord the legislators of my country are enlightened.


Oh, and a heads up for you sir: tell your loved ones to stay away from downtown today - you'll be able to thank me later when I'm in prison being punished.


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