Would Stricter Gun Laws Have Done Anything To Prevent Colorado Killing Spree?
As the entire country tries to make sense of what happened in Colorado last week, the obligatory debate whenever one of these mass shootings occurs has commenced: would stricter gun laws have prevented 24-year-old James Holmes from marching into a sold out movie theater and shooting more than 70 people?
To quote Eric "Otter" Stratton in a little film called "Animal House," "I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part!" And no one better to do it than New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is using the tragic shooting to push his anti-gun agenda, while completely ignoring the actual problem: Holmes -- like many rampage shooters before him -- is clearly seriously mentally ill.
Bloomberg appeared on CBS' Face the Nation over the weekend where he used the Colorado shooting to urge presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to get behind his push for stricter gun laws nationwide.
"Expressing sympathy is nice . . . but somebody's got to do something about this," Bloomberg said. "And this requires, particularly in a presidential year, the candidates for president of the United States to stand up and once and for all say, yes, they feel terrible. Yes, it's a tragedy. Yes, we have great sympathy for the families, but it's time for this country to do something. And that's the job of the president of the United States."
Now, we're not gun people -- we couldn't care less how hard it is to buy a gun. But despite gun ownership being a right specifically addressed in the Constitution (as outdated as it may be), the Colorado shooting isn't a gun issue -- as we mentioned, it's a mental illness issue.
Aside from the guns and hundreds of rounds of ammo Holmes used to carry out his murderous plot, his apartment also was rigged with explosives that potentially could have wiped out anyone who walked through the door -- and the only reason they didn't is because Holmes told police his apartment was essentially a bomb waiting to go off. In other words, if Holmes wanted to kill a lot of people, he probably could have done it regardless of how hard Bloomberg wants to make it to buy a gun.
Sure, Holmes' access to legal firearms probably made it easier for him to carry out the attack, but -- as we know here in New York -- getting your hands on illegal guns isn't much of a chore, and despite the mayor's desire to rid the planet of guns, it 'ain't gonna happen.
Whenever one of these types of shooting tragedies happen, the anti-gun crowd goes crazy calling for tougher laws. Simultaneously, gun nuts use the senseless killings to call for more guns in the hands of citizens so they can protect themselves in case something like what happened in Colorado ever happens to them.
Guns, however, are a cop out -- an easy direction to point the finger in an effort to make sense of what happened. The root of the problem -- identifying and treating mental illness before madmen go off the deep end -- always seems to take a back seat.
That, of course, is our opinion -- we want to know what you think, though: would stricter gun laws have done anything to prevent the Colorado shooting rampage?
Cast your vote below.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.