By Teresa Welsh |
In the wake of the horrific shooting massacre in Aurora, Colo., the National Rifle Association's Faustian bargain has now been made clear to us all. We are told that we must allow innocent Americans—including children—to be gunned down by homicidal maniacs with legally-acquired arsenals because this is "the price we must pay for freedom." All people of conscience must stand resolute against this radical and morally bankrupt idea.
There is much we still need to learn about James Holmes. But we do know many things about him. We know that he is a disturbed young man whose behavior was so odd that one gun range owner in rural Colorado rejected his application for membership. We know that he passed two background checks that took only the most cursory look at his mental health background. Because Holmes hadn't been involuntarily committed or formally adjudicated by a court as a "mental defective," he was free to buy all the guns he wanted. But how many Americans struggling with serious mental health issues fall into one of those two narrow categories?
We also know James Holmes was able to outfit himself for war. When he walked into the Century Aurora 16 theater, he wore full body armor and carried four guns: two semiautomatic Glock handguns, a 12-gauge shotgun, and an AR-15 style assault rifle with a 100-round drum magazine. The NRA would have us believe that the latter weapon is a "modern sporting rifle." Rational Americans will immediately see that such a firearm has no legitimate sporting purpose. It is a battlefield weapon (a semiautomatic version of the military's M-16 rifle) that in a civilian's hands is only good for two things: mass murder and violent insurrection against our government. The AR-15 was one of the assault rifles banned under a federal law that Congress allowed to expire in 2004. It is now clear they made a tragic mistake.
When James Madison drafted the Second Amendment, his intent was to enhance our nation's domestic security, not to promote anarchy and the licentiousness of armed mobs that so horrified him during incidents like Shays' Rebellion. It is time for today's elected officials—including President Barack Obama—to show similar foresight and act to prevent the carnage that has become such a constant and shameful aspect of American life. Condolences will not be enough to prevent the next massacre.
About Joshua Horwitz Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Mike Sweeney Communications Manager at the Gun Owners' Action League
Erich Pratt Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America
Dave Workman Senior Editor of TheGunMag.com
Dan Gross President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Center