The Internet was swarmed with comments Friday, and all my activist friends were first to say, “See, this is what guns do.” Hard to argue with a statement like that after what just happened. Dan Cubias writes, for Being Latino, that America’s obsession with guns is what makes them too readily available.
Hopefully our better natures will shine through, but as this is an election year, we will more than likely have both sides inevitably using this as an opportunity for political gain.
For most, it is a black-and-white issue, and it is very easy to see it that way, especially after a tragedy. To show how polarized the camps are on this issue, I’ve heard pro-gun voices say, “This is why we need conceal carry laws”; I’ve also heard anti-gun voices say, “This is why we need to outlaw guns altogether.”
I believe neither solution is correct.
What occurred in Aurora, Colorado, was the evil actions of one very disturbed individual. To think that anyone in a pitch-black movie theater, who had just been teargassed, would have a chance of doing more help than harm had they had a gun is just a crazy, Die Hard fantasy. On the flip-side, to think that you can forever prevent the actions of a mind that would have this degree of pre-meditation to commit this type of atrocity is also a flight of fancy.
Unless you want to outlaw everything from gasoline to 100-proof liquor, some nut job out there will find a way to do something horrible.
A major problem with this issue is that neither side of the gun-control debate listens or understands each other. Millions of law-abiding gun owners live in rural and suburban areas where gun laws are less strict, while anti-gun activist live in urban populations with strong gun control and higher inner-city crime. Those in rural environments don’t seem to understand why allowing someone to have an AK-47 in the inner city is an issue, and most urban dwellers don’t know the difference between semi- and fully automatic.
Looking at last year’s FBI data on gun crimes, you will find that the states with strict gun laws actually have higher gun murder rates. The Columbine High School Massacre took place while there was a assault weapons ban in place. While it makes sense to have stricter gun laws in large cities, outright bans and magazine limitations have proven ineffective in preventing bad people from doing bad things. Our country’s problems with guns go deeper than just laws, as other countries — like Canada — have both lax gun laws and low gun crime.
Guns that cause inner-city violence are handguns sold illegally. Not to diminish the shooting in Colorado, but more people are killed in Chicago each month by guns due to gang violence. Chicago has some of the strictest laws in the country, and they don’t seem to be preventing criminals from getting a hold of guns.
Politicians are quick to make scapegoats of anything that can give them sway with voters, without explaining the complexity of the problem. The deeper issue with inner-city violence is lack of opportunity and poverty.
When all is said and done we need an honest debate on gun laws in this country. We should be realistic and say what is right for a small town in Alaska may not be right for NYC. Both sides seem to be willing to attack constitutional liberties whenever it agrees best with their own interest.
Instances of national tragedy provide perfect breeding grounds for these political opportunities.
Jose Cruz is the editor of OurTiempo.com worked in the Clinton White House and on three Presidential campaigns. He is the founder of ImmigrationPAC a pro-comprehensive immigration reform Federal Polical Action Committee and active political commentator.