The man who shot up a packed theater in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie managed to kill 12 people and physically wounded nearly 60 more, while managing to psychologically hurt many more.
It takes a certain kind of predatory evil beyond simple mental illness to plot out such an attack. An insane person would not likely have been able to so carefully conceal his preparations, execute his attack with such grim, methodical determination, nor rig his apartment with explosives and incendiaries without immolating himself in the process. He may not have been thinking the way your or I or other normal people do, by he was not insane. He decided to be evil.
I’ve been verbally sparing with people on Twitter that claim if we had strict limitations on ammunition purchases, or more intrusive background checks, or a ban on assault rifles/magazines/shotguns/handguns/all guns, then something like this wouldn’t happen.
It seems that there are two kinds of people making these demands. There are those that are truly worried about violence and honestly think that such restrictions would in some way deter the criminally violent from being able to carry out mass casualty attacks. And there are those that have a predisposition, phobia, or politically-generated hatred of firearms that look at this event as a chance to affirm their predisposition.
The later group simply isn’t worth engaging. Those that have irrational fears of inanimate objects can’t be talked down off that ledge without professional intervention, and it matters little whether the item in question is a firearm or a blender. They are immune to reason and logic.
The former, however, I feel compelled to try to instruct and educate.
Firearms are tools, nothing more or less. Incremental restrictions chipping away at the right to bear arms have been proven ineffective repeatedly. A 100-round magazine such as that used by the shooter does not make the weapon fire any faster and as a practical matter introduces mechanical complexity into the equation, increasing the likelihood of the weapon jamming. Reducing magazine capacity means the shooter has to carry more magazines, and changing magazines takes just 1-2 seconds. The victims of the Virginia Tech shooting were just as dead when shot with the suspects 15-round magazine equipped Glock 19 as there were with the 10-round equipped Walther P-22.
Nor would a complete ban on firearms deter those cooly intent on mass murder. Neither Timothy McVeigh nor Mohamed Atta used firearms in the mass murders that made them famous, nor did Julio González, who needed just a single-dollar’s-worth of gas. Millions were killed in concentration camps like Treblinka with nothing more complex than carbon monoxide.
Man is a brilliant animal, even the most malevolent and barbaric of us. You will never be able to pass enough laws to stop those intent on mass murder.
You can, however, ensure that laws and tools slanted in our favor so that when evil arises, citizens have the capability to end the threat as efficiently and quickly as possible.