The massacre in an Aurora movie theater should restart another public debate about the degree of control that should be exerted over firearms. However, despite the fact that the tragedy happened in the middle of a presidential election, neither candidate dared mention the issue of the military-grade weapons that the suspect used for the killings.
The culture of firearms is deeply rooted in the country’s middle and southern states. At the same time, the latest U.S. Supreme Court interpretation of the Second Amendment reaffirmed the right to bear weapons, although it left room for reservations. The National Rifle Association, with its powerful lobbying and millions of dollars, is using this as a basis to intimidate politicians and fight any attempt at regulation.
That is why Barack Obama and Mitt Romney remain silent on the issue, betraying their past. For example, the president voted in favor of an assault weapons ban in the Illinois legislature, while the former Massachusetts governor approved a firearms ban during his tenure in that state.
Their records show they both once held a consistent posture, such as opposing the sale of assault weapons to the public. Until 2004, there was even a federal ban on the sale of assault weapons like the AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle. If that law had been extended, the attacker in Aurora would not have been able to buy this type of rifle. Also, this limitation has been proven to be constitutional.
But common sense evaporates in this discussion. Those who defend weapons talk about an individual’s right to defend him or herself, which no one denies. The problem is that, as statistics show, in the case of guns, the majority are used against relatives and acquaintances and not on criminals.
Moreover, the argument of the right of an “honest citizen” to possess a weapon should not reassure anyone. Countless times, that “honest citizen” with a weapon has become a murderer when faced with a broken heart, a frustrating situation at work or some sort of emotional unbalance.
It is true that target shooting is a sport and hunting a hobby, but for that a military weapon custom-designed for killing people is not necessary.
We think the Aurora massacre should not place conditions on our freedoms-even the one of being protected from a crazy person who can buy assault weapons and ammunition as easily of buying a hamburger.
There is an unfortunate benign mythology surrounding firearms, which disappears when faced with facts like the one in Colorado.
Firearms defenders are today shielding themselves behind a false respect for the victims, in order to refuse to discuss why they support easy access to assault weapons. If only they would have had more respect for the living by protecting them from those weapons.