The shooting in the Florida movie theater that left the father of two dead was not carried out by a reclusive young male who was mentally ill and felt spurned by society. It was carried out by what most people consider a highly qualified gun owner…a retired police officer who was merely upset by a young man texting his 3-year-old daughter. The shooting at the school in New Mexico was carried out by a 12-year-old boy who had access to a sawed-off shotgun.
Moreover, neither of these shooters was stopped by armed vigilantes. They were stopped by unarmed witnesses who had the courage to act.
These facts stand in stark contrast to the recommendations of the National Rifle Association (NRA) that reacted to the mass killing of 6-year-olds at Newtown by saying that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
The fact is that those who carry guns are tempted to use them. What might have turned into a fist fight in the movie theater instead turned into a murder because of the presence of a gun. What might have become a school yard fight between middle school students left one student critically injured and another in serious condition because of access to a gun.
There are only a few conditions that warrant the carrying of guns – when you are carrying large sums of money, when you have been threatened with violence, when you are working alone in a store overnight, when you must travel in a remote area known for violence, or when you are a paid security guard or on-duty police officer.
And there are no circumstances in which a minor should have access to guns without the presence of a parent.
However, the NRA would have you believe that you are always at risk unless you’re packing heat…ready to fire, round in the chamber, semi-automatic heat. And, unfortunately, too many Americans (especially right wing American politicians) have accepted the NRA paranoia. It’s the reason our gun laws have been changed to allow virtually anyone to own and carry a gun. And it’s the reason at least 10,000 fellow citizens lost their lives to gun violence in 2013.
When will it end?