The level of intelligence in the gun debate has never been very sophisticated. It usually comes down to something like this: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” The high-level response is: “People with guns kill people.” Okay. That settles everything.
One thing is indisputable: People with bigger guns kill more people. Sorry I used the lingo of the debate but perhaps more will understand.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been at the forefront of the ban-handgun movement. And he believes it’s time we had more than just a serious discussion about enacting laws now.
The mayor said: “Less than a week after Aurora, the two candidates (President Barack Obama and Senator Mitt Romney) are back to politics as usual, attacking each other on gaffes and trivialities. If not now, when is the time for them to outline their solutions to gun violence?”
The gun lobby had the predictable reaction to the Aurora shooting: perhaps if more people had weapons in theater, the gunman might have been stopped.
Of course, there was no mention of how someone could buy thousands of rounds of ammunition and heavy weaponry and NOT set off alarm bells with any monitoring agency.
I spent a bit of time with law-enforcement people this week from various jurisdictions around the country. They for the most part agreed with the necessity of banning handguns. But they do concede that just the banning of guns does not stem the tide of violence, in cities like Chicago, for example.
“If the shooting had been in a big city,” one only half-jokingly suggested, “there may have been a few perps in the theater who would not have waited for the nut to reload.”
The reality of big cities is that guns will eventually get to the bad guys, but any police chief will tell you: it can’t hurt to keep as many off the streets as possible.
New York Magazine pointed to what it says are 125 “shooting sprees” in the country during the years between Columbine and Aurora.
Those sprees are no longer few and far between. They are another form of terrorism that we face. But how to stop it?
Bloomberg points out that some 40 percent of gun sales happen without a federal background check. He says the “Fix Gun Checks Act” would close the loophole, but it has never been voted on.
But the Second Amendment debate will not go away.
One retired Air Force major told me he was frustrated that he couldn’t get a gun permit, even though he’d spent years defending his country. “I had to fill out more paperwork to apply for a permit than I did when I joined the Air Force.”
The mayor says a tragedy like Aurora should prompt the nation to action. “Now is not the time to TALK about keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”
Indeed, talk may be cheap, but action in Washington? That is truly rare.