Suppose you’re like the millions of other American’s; greatly anticipating the final installment of the brilliant Christopher Nolan Batman Franchise. You purchase your ticket early, you drive yourself, perhaps a friend, loved one and others to the theater that evening for an early showing. You wait in a long line for an hour or two, but you don’t care. You’re going to see Batman! It’s been four years since the Dark Knight was released, and you couldn’t wait for The Dark Knight Rises to complete the epic trilogy. You finally enter the theater, you grab your candy, your water, or favorite beverage and popcorn; you find your seat, and wait until the lights dim, and the projector starts showing previews. Finally, the movie begins, the audience cheers as the credits flash across the screen culminating in the title. As your excitement reaches cathartic levels you begin to hear the muffled sound of loud “Pops” coming one after another. One scream turns to two, and perhaps you look over at the person sitting near you and notice that they are slumped over in their seat. You nudge them as the the screams become louder, and the “Pop’s” become more rapid, louder, and more evident that they are coming from a gun. As you nudge your peer, you realize that he is unresponsive, and suddenly your heart begins to beat faster, you begin to sweat, your ability to hear becomes stagnated, your vision becomes impaired due to darkness and a growing sense of fear. Everything is a blur, and suddenly, you hear a rapid succession of POPS and everything goes black. You’re dead, shot by a mass murdering gunman.
This scenario most specifically describes in as much detail as I can glean from the incident that occurred on July 19, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. I heard about it this morning while eating breakfast from the waitress who was serving me. ABC early reports stated that the gunman had packed his car full of firearms and ballistic gear, purchased his ticket to the Dark Knight Rises premier, entered the theater, and used the emergency exit as a prop to quickly exit, and re-enter to begin the carnage. Among the firearms used, an AR-15 assault rifle, a .40 caliber pistol and a shotgun. The gunman had also later told police, upon capture that not only was he “The Joker” but that his apartment was booby trapped with explosive devices; a chilling coup de grace amidst a franchise cloaked in tragic loss. Heath Ledger’s memorable performance in a movie, brought to real life by a crazed gunmen hell bent on blood, carnage, and murder.
What are the estimates of this damage? Well, Christopher Nolan will probably make a large fortune on this franchise as he did, following Heath Ledger’s death, tragically profiting from a high profile tragedy that will be certain to bring renewed attention to the idea of gun control laws, and more fights among staunch defenders of the 2nd Amendment. Mind you, I am neither criticizing, nor disparaging the work of Christopher Nolan, or Heath Ledger, both of whom are artists who are responsible solely for depicting their art on screen, and not advocating a position of violence against their fellow man. As this is not intended to be a criticism of their art, it is intended that this writing be a criticism of any and all gun control laws, not only from a 2nd Amendment perspective, but a logical one as well. It is my position that gun control laws neither control guns as they are intended to do, nor do they mitigate acts of violence as they are purported to do. Just the opposite; gun control laws ONLY serve to disarm the law abiding and put them at the mercy of those who would use those gun control laws to injure or destroy their fellow man.
BUT, BUT, BUT GUNS ARE EVIL
I recall a debate with my Uncle, who is a strong proponent of strict gun control laws. It was and remains his position that strong gun control laws to mitigate violence. Further, he asserts that the monopoly of coercive power to kill and destroy their fellow man should and shall remain strictly with the Government who would use its police forces and powers as its agent. Moreso, he asserts, that because men are evil, and are not capable of protecting themselves, the rules of coercive power and self defense shall be within police authority only, directly implying that people are not responsible for their own safety. When I asked him if this implication was correct, he stated, “People are not responsible for their safety, the police are.” Nevermind the fact that I know a thing or two on this subject, when I asked him what a person is to do when immediate defense of self and or loved ones is called for, he stated, “It’s still the responsibility of police.” When I pressed and told him that at minimum, police take approximately 3-5 minutes to respond, and approximately 3 seconds to point, aim and fire a gun accurately, he did not budge. His premise concluding, that, it was exactly my statement of the efficiency one can kill with a gun, that is the deciding factor on gun control. He ended this bizarre premise by stating, “Guns are evil.”
Being the persistent arbiter of thought experiments, and my love for definitions and contempt for sophistry, I asked him to define “evil.” His definition was mind boggling: “Anything that goes against the morals of man.” Interesting since he used morals which falls only within the purview of man and not inanimate objects. Interested in furthering the conversation, I asked him if evil was static, or if it required action. He said, it required an act. I unholstered my concealed sidearm, pointed it down at the ground away from him, told him to look inside the chamber to see that I had a bullet housed. The gun was as I say, “Locked, Cocked, and ready to Rock.” I put the gun down in the middle of the table and told him not to touch it, just look at it. To make things more interesting, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my four inch folding knife, locked it into place, and placed it next to the gun and again told him, “don’t touch it, just look at it.” Then I asked him, “Without touching that gun or knife, will it harm you?” He said, “No”. I then asked him, “Without touching that knife, will it harm you.” Again, his reply was “No.” Then I asked him, “If evil is as you say, about morality, you would agree that morals lies strictly within the purview of man?” He agreed. I asked him next, “If intent and action are required for evil, and I do not have intent to neither fire that gun at you, or use that knife against you, how am I, or those weapons evil?” He could not answer the question. Then I took out my second, smaller gun, emptied the chamber and kept the slide back on it. I had him check it real quick, and handed it to him. I asked him, “Suppose that gun you are holding is loaded, and suppose that you don’t know what my intent is. Suppose I suddenly say to you, ‘In one second I’m going to reach for that gun on the table and shoot you with it’ do you feel safer with that gun in your hand, or without it.” He got up put the gun down and walked away, knowing I had gotten the best of him.
This line of thinking is commonplace against the anti-gun lobby. Gun’s are as evil as the people whose intent to use them against their fellow man are. That the efficiency inherent in the physics of a gun are such that only, “the responsible (Such as the government)” should be allowed to have. I assert that this is demogaguery, false and childish. It’s as childish as the assertion that the efficiency of guns to mass kill any amount of people, be it one, ten or one thousand does not replace the more important fact that any one of those numbers are dead and not coming back. Guns are no more evil than the people who intend to use them for evil, but a person who is skilled with a broadsword, samurai sword, throwing knives, shurikens, or an axe or machete can be just as efficient (And more silent). The shock and speed with which guns kill does indeed shock the senses, and cause the fear response to ignite, but it’s hardly an answer to assert that guns are evil, without ascertaining the axiomatic, true deliverer of evil: The man who kills.
WHY NOT JUST BAN THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE?
In the scenario I opened with there is no perfect outcome be it with a gun control ban or limitless gun freedom. Here’s the facts as they are slowly trickling in. The gunman had months to plan his little operation. He developed a plan; probably cased the theater to understand the points of entry and exit. He probably scouted for security at his previous dry runs then he began to make his purchases. It takes at least 10 days to purchase a firearm in California, and I’m going to assume that the law does not differ much in other states as well. It takes at least 4-6 weeks to fit the ballistic vest, sheeves, and leggings, and have them shipped to him (I have never seen any shop that actually sells kevlar gear, again, readers in other states, you can correct me if I’m wrong). This means that his plan was approximately, at least one to two months in the making. He probably timed it for a getaway, and may or may not have had a contingency plan in case police arrived early to thwart his plan. The ballistic gear suggests that he was ready for a fight. Colorado is not really a strict state in terms of gun control, he could have been anticipating another patron who would give him trouble with a firearm of their own, or a pitched gun battle with police (The long guns seem to suggest that). Given that planning, and the element of surprise, at the hour of the incident, The gunman could easily have caused more damage than he actually did. Again, not making light of the casualties, one death, or injury is one too many in my estimation. As I have stated earlier, it takes less than three seconds to point, aim and fire a gun, but nothing was said about reactions by the victims. As was the case in other prominent shootings, such as Columbine, Virginia Tech, or even Tucson, the time to react to gunfire, and the realization that people are dying is much longer. The fear response, the shock of what is happening, takes too long and varies from individual to individual. Relying on this shock doctrine, it is no wonder that when gunfire starts, people often remain seated as if to suggest they are too cowardly to fight. It is easy to critique that response, however, it is perfectly normal; as normal as people finding that after the incident, they have either defecated on themselves, urinated on themselves, vomited or all the above. The element of surprise is as dangerous, if not more so than the actual firing of the gun itself. Place the gunman on equal footing with a hypervigilant person who is always ready (Semper Paratus) and the gunman’s odds decrease exponentially.
What does this suggest? Does it suggest that having a gun is better than not having one? I think the question answers itself, even given the element of surprise, which no one can really plan for. The element of surprise, the plan itself guarantees that at least half the number, if not a large fraction still become casualties, at the mercy of the gunman’s surprise. Add the ballistic gear for the gunman, and not only does he have surprise, he also has tactical advantage for even the most experienced and prowessed legal carrier. So this suggests that we SHOULD have gun control, right? Wrong, I think it’s wise to live by the maxim, “I’d rather have a gun and not need it, than to need a gun and not have it.” Take a look at the rise of violence against women. Think that there is any correlation between rape and gun control? You betcha! While we are still teaching women they can be like men, via neo-feminist Marxist movements, while discouraging them from becoming concealed carriers, the statistics for violence against women are still on the rise. You add the threat of deadly reprisal to potential, would-be rapist’s, molester’s, or woman beaters and the statistic will fall drastically.
THE BAN IT STRATEGY
The premise that gun’s cause murder is utter hysteria, fallacious nonsense. Gun’s are sometimes used to commit murder, but so are hands and feet, baseball bats, knives, axes, billy clubs, samurai swords, fire the list goes on ad infinitum. The fact is, murder has already been banned, and since it already is a capital crime to commit a murder, or a heinous crime to commit assault with a deadly weapon, the means with which these acts are perpetrated are relevant only to the investigation, the act itself, but not as a grand societal ill. As i stated earlier, the plan, the element of surprise, the tactics are as dangerous as the physical act itself, or more clearly, just pieces of the act, as relevant as the instruments used to perpetrate the act. Why not ban surprise? Why not ban planning? Oh wait, are they? Yes they are: California Penal Code section 187(a) states: “Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.” Again, I’m betting other states definition of murder are the same. Nowhere in the law outlawing murder does it state how the act is performed, but that the act WAS performed, and that a human being was killed. Banning guns does not erase the fact that killing others is still possible if only a person develops a plan, and a means to execute it.
I once watched a youtube video with Milton Friedman explaining the free market to an audience hostile to the idea. Milton Friedman, the economist was a champion of free market libertarianism, and people’s right to choose how they wanted to live their lives. He made a statement on the imperfections of this world, and how it was impossible to entrust entirely other people, most namely the government (which is composed of people) to create a perfect society, a perfect country, a perfect world. He told his audience that “Utopia is not for this world.” Long standing proponents of gun control ought to remember this as should freedom loving gun rights advocates. There is no perfect society, and there is no perfect utopia and we need to live in this world and appeal to our rationality and morality in our dealings with our fellow man. There is no perfect solution in mitigating gun violence, and there’s no reprisal, or just compensation for the lives lost. It is neither justice, nor fairness to suggest that a gun ban law would ever stop violence, or bring back the dead who were killed in tragic circumstances. The ban it strategy that we have incrementally moved to on gun’s, fast food, etc etc etc. is not the answer to these difficult questions. The answer, must come from ourselves.