I wasn’t going to get into the gun control debate with today’s shooting in Colorado. It’s the same story every time something like this happens; the left argues that more gun control is needed and the right says that something like this proves that people need guns for their protection. This plays out for a couple months and then nothing happens. The more I thought about and discussed todays events, the more I realized that this time it was different.
James Holmes is a terrorist. He didn’t pick a Batman showing because it inspired him like some outlets are reporting, he picked it because it was the biggest event going on in the near future and his goal was to instill fear, as was evident by his backup plan, the bomb rigged apartment he revealed post arrest. There’s no reason, yet, to assume that there was a reason for his acts besides pure terror.
The usual gun owner rhetoric is that a person in the crowd that had a concealed weapon could have stopped it. That argument doesn’t work in this case. James Holmes was prepared to get shot at. This is first evident in the full riot gear he was wearing. Sure, the outfit also served to instill a bit more fear in his intended victims but it wasn’t just for show; in addition to a flak jacket and ballistic helmet, he also had specific things like a throat and crotch protector. James Holmes was prepared to get shot at. Reports have varied on the exact sequence of events, but they agree on the beginning. He came into the theater and threw either smoke bombs or tear gas before opening fire with an assault rifle. A smoke screen to distract and disorient a potential responder and the assault rifle because that would get off rounds at the quickest rate and increase the killing potential before he was stopped. If a potential “protector” had a gun, he would have had to see through thick smoke and get through Kevlar to stop him. And even then, damage would have been done. But James Holmes was prepared to get shot at. Had he been taken out, no one would have known about his booby-trapped apartment, which would have caused an unknown amount of damage. Holmes revealed the bombs almost immediately after arrest because he had already accomplished what he wanted to, there was no need for contingency. The apartment is so complex that it is now almost a full 24 hours after the discovery and no law enforcement has actually gone in.
No, a gun would not have prevented or reduced this tragedy. At worst it would have caused more deaths, at best it would not have prevented a majority of the 70 casualties. Obviously not all psychopaths are this smart, but Holmes has now provided a blueprint for people in the future.
Holmes was able to prepare for all of this legally. The assault rifle and 100 round magazine that was attached to it were purchased at a store. The fact that people can still buy assault rifles and 100 round magazines did not cause this, but it sure made it a lot easier. Not having an assault rifle probably would not have stopped him but it would have made it a lot harder to kill people, and easier to prevent. This is why we need gun control. Not a gun ban, but control. With the frequency of shootings that happen here, we cannot afford the price in human life to keep the existing policies as-is. Something needs to change, preferably before this happens again.