A coward’s weapon

A gun is a coward’s weapon. A liar’s weapon. We kill too often because we’ve made it easy… too easy… sparing ourselves the mess and the work.

–Batman, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Vol. 1, #3, May 1986

I want to talk about last Friday’s shooting in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, which claimed the lives of 12 while injuring 58 others, the most victims of any mass shooting in US history. Our thoughts are with the victims, killed and injured in a senseless act of violence while simply trying to enjoy a movie, as well as with their families and friends.

“Mass shooting.” To me, those words evoke images of Columbine in ’99 and Virginia Tech in ’07. But that’s not even scratching the surface: According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, there have been 60 mass shootings in the US in just the past 18.5 months. Their list of mass shootings in the US since 2005 is 62 pages long. Since 2005. Depending on what statistics you read, the firearm homicide rate in the US is something like 20 times higher than those of the next 22 leading countries combined. These numbers are appalling.

As such tragedies have in the past, the shooting in Aurora has re-raised political and media debates about gun control. One of the weapons used by the shooter was an AR-15 assault rifle, which he legally purchased. My political views tend toward the left, and I agree with my state’s senator, Dianne Feinstein, that weapons of war don’t belong on the streets; that the right to bear arms doesn’t and shouldn’t mean “any and all arms”; that assault rifles designed to kill enemy soldiers in combat, rapidly and in great numbers with 100-round magazines, shouldn’t be legally available to the average citizen. Even neoconservative Bill Kristol concedes this, despite tea partiers’ insistence that such bullet-hoses are among our constitutionally-protected “basic freedoms”. Personally, I’d like to know which “well-regulated militia” these people are in.

One of the best pieces I’ve read so far concerning the shooting comes from Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame. Here’s my favorite part:

We will not prevent every tragedy. We cannot stop every maniac. But we certainly have done ourselves no good by allowing these particular weapons to be acquired freely by just about anyone.

Whether we’ll see any fundamental change in gun control policy as a result of this particular tragedy is unknown but, I think, unlikely given our country’s history with gun violence. But I’m just a pessimist on the internet; what do you think? Should gun control laws be stricter? Would restricting certain classes of guns help reduce the kind of wanton murder that took place in Colorado last week? I don’t have any answers, but I think I know what Batman would say:

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