The latest in a line of maddening mass killing sprees by an unstable person occurred last Thursday in Aurora, Col. when super-kook James Holmes played out his fantasies by killing 12 moviegoers and injured 58 more innocent victims. With each new attack comes the circuitous debate about gun control, particularly focussing on assault weapons.
Holmes joins an infamous list of attackers who get their faces plastered across the front pages and televised lead stories: Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech (32 people killed, 17 wounded). Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood, Texas (12 people killed, 31 wounded). Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson, Ariz. (six killed, 11 wounded). Anders Behring Breivik in Norway (76 people killed in a gun and bomb attack). These are just the recent acts which come to mind.
Sunday morning news shows were filled with the gun control debate. “If there were no assault weapons available and no this or no that, this guy is going to find something, right? He’s going to know how to create a bomb,” spoke Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on CNN’s State of the Union.
“Weapons of war don’t belong on the streets,” said Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif. on Fox News Sunday.
“I don’t think society can keep sick, demented individuals from obtaining weapons,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. also on Fox News Sunday, who also suggested that a “responsible individual” who was armed in the theater might have been able to stop “some of these deaths.” (all quotes from July 23 Star Tribune, P. A5).
I, like many U.S. citizens, love my guns since receiving my first BB gun on my 9 year-old birthday. I agree with Sen. Johnson that there’s no way we can keep guns out of the hands of kooks. So how do we as a society combat the wave of spree killings?
First, there’s heightened vigilance. Begin by outlawing any weapon and ammo sales over the Internet and force gun shop owners to notify authorities when a particular individual requests unusually large purchases of assault ammo or weaponry. We need an expanded “Big Brother” web surfing extension of law enforcement to track gun purchases, particularly when combined with any wild political or personal rants on blogs, etc. Our personal freedoms are already under attack every time a mass killing spree takes place.
Secondly, families need to be more vigilant of their own members, especially if mental illness is suspected. How does a person like James Holmes stockpile an armory full of ammo and weapons without a family member noticing? Did they completely cut off contact with him and never visit his apartment? Perhaps families of mass murderers – or any murderers– should be held civilly responsible for what takes place.
Finally, screw the judicial process when a shooter is caught blood-red-handed in the act. James Holmes wants to sit like a mannequin in court, closing his eyes and saying nothing? Then turn him over to the victims’ families and let them determine the proper – and perferably painful– penalty for his action. It won’t be a deterrent to a murdering kook, but at least it will be proper justice.