Before James Holmes set about gunning down unsuspecting moviegoers in an Aurora, CO theater, he went on a shopping spree, legally purchasing the following from online and brick and mortar gun shops over the course of four months:
- Smith & Wesson M&P15 .223 Rifle (has the appearance of an AR-15)
- Two .40 caliber Glock pistols
- Remington 870 pump-action shotgun
- Blackhawk urban assault vest
- Blackhawk Omega Elite triple pistol magazine
- Blackhawk Omega Elite M16 magazine pouch
- Blackhawk Be-Wharned silver knife
- 6000 rounds of ammunition
He also managed to pass all of the background checks and didn't have anything that would set off red flags. However, he did manage to spook the owner of a gun range with a bizarre voice message:
Holmes, 24, emailed an application to join the Lead Valley Range in Byers on June 25 in which he said he was not a user of illegal drugs or a convicted felon, said owner Glenn Rotkovich.
But when Rotkovich called to invite him to a mandatory orientation the following week, he said he heard Holmes' voice mail greeting that was "bizarre -- guttural, freakish at best."
It identified the number as belonging to "James," so Rotkovich said he left a message.
He left two other messages but eventually told his staff to watch out for Holmes at the July 1 orientation and not to accept him into the club, Rotkovich said. His comments were first reported by Fox News.
"There's something weird here," Rotkovich said he concluded.
Indeed, but I'm sure he didn't think much about it until the tragedy unfolded.
No one outside of the armed forces needs a 100-round capacity magazine for their .223 (or 5.56mm NATO) rifles. Gun enthusiasts can argue about the desire to be able to purchase whatever they want, under the argument of psychopaths like these being rare and responsible gun owners being legion. These folks will argue against making it harder for law abiding citizens to purchase implements to exercise their Second Amendment rights on account of one or a few nutcases.
On the other hand, you can look at the 12 people who died and the 59 that were injured and see a very compelling rationale for stricter gun control laws.
I get the gist of gun control, but I think it won't do much to prevent any of these tragedies from happening. Frankly, if anyone has the motivation for hurting or/and killing someone, they'll find a way to do it. Timothy McVeigh did it with a rental truck full of fertilizer turned into an improvised bomb.
The way if feel about gun control is this: guns are a tool, with the unfortunate sole purpose of killing/maiming/injuring people. How a gun is used depends on who's behind the trigger. In the right hands, it's used to protect life and property. In the wrong hands, it's used to murder and intimidate. The "right" and "wrong" hands depends on your own personal interpretation -- you wouldn't necessary consider "cops" to be "right hands" in many circumstances.
What gets me is how people talk about gun control by focusing solely on the types of guns being used and not the people behind the trigger. Unless it's attached to some automated travesty like a drone, guns generally can't fire by themselves. It takes someone with the motivation to use it, good or evil.
One argument I hear about is that more limited access to guns will make it much harder for people to get access to them, especially in the heat of the moment. For someone who wants to put a cap in someone's ass right then and there, that might work. For the psychopath who's methodically piecing together an arsenal of weapons over a few month's time, maybe not. He did it with a clean background and aside from his application-gone-awry at a gun range, he didn't raise any serious red flags until it was too late.
Perhaps a national database that tracks purchases of firearms, ammunition and accessories might work. Then again, all you're doing is collecting names and the names of most of these psychopaths don't pop up on them because they have yet to do anything that would warrant setting off any red flags in the first place. Not only that, people who take the Second Amendment extraordinarily seriously will flip their shit at the mere suggestion of a national database. Also, the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 made sure such a list wouldn't come into existence unless the act itself was dropped.
With gun control, there's always the possibility of fueling an epidemic of guns being sold illegally on the black market, although if you're already into that sort of thing, this probably won't change anything for you. This, too, will make those people flip their shit.
I would like to see more stringent restrictions placed on firearms, but I realize that until gun enthusiasts, the majority who turn out to be rather conservative, find sufficient political capital (perhaps in the form of a stellar rise in black American gun ownership...?) to come out for stronger gun control, not much will change. A tragedy like this will only cause those who already love guns to the point of fetishism to buy even more guns. They're keeping their powder dry, waiting for the day they can play out childhood Cowboys and Injuns with real ammo.
Gun owners who dream about facing off, toe to toe with James Holmes are doing just that -- dreaming. Not even the best trained weapons experts would have been able to get a clear shot in a dark, smoke filled movie theater filled with screaming, scared, panicked people scrambling for cover. Even if they did, chances are they wouldn't have been able to hit any vital areas due to the body armor.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney doesn't think now's the right time to talk about gun control. Contrary to the Landed One's beliefs, now is the time to talk about it and we sure don't need Mitt's permission to do it.