It didn't take long for the anti-gun lobby to use this tragedy to advance their agenda. Already they call for more gun control. More limits on weapon purchases. More limits on how much ammunition can be bought. More limits on concealed-carry permits. More this, more that. But nothing they propose would make any difference because nothing they propose will limit evil acts by evil persons - motivated by thoughts so unfathomable, good people could not imagine them. While true, a gun can inflict more damage than most other weapons, more children die each year in the United States by drowning in backyard pools. Yet I hear no outrage that suggests banning pools or at the very least, limiting how much water can be introduced into a pool, or how many pools an individual can purchase in a given month. More children will die in car accidents this year than by guns - far more. And sadly, more children will die this year at the hands of their parents. And in the overwhelming majority of those cases, death wont be administered by a gun. Then why the preoccupation with firearms?
The right to bear arms is sacred. The founding fathers thought so highly of it, they place it only second behind the right to free speech in our constitution. They understood the necessity of a free people to be able to defend themselves against a criminal element and a tyrannical government. In fact, Thomas Jefferson said should he have only one option - he'd choose the right to bear arms over the right to free speech - knowing that the second amendment could secure the first, but not the other way around.
Disturbed individuals will perform disturbing acts. These acts will occur with or without the aid of a firearm. The Oklahoma City bombing of 1995 took 168 lives. Yet no gun was employed in the tragedy. A rental truck and fertilizer did the deed. Evil, deranged individuals will find inventive ways to reek pain and destruction. In 1978, Reverend Jim Jones was the author of 914 deaths by suicide, 200 were children. They willingly followed a madman into death. In 2001, Andrea Yates drowned her 5 children in the family bathtub. In 1994, Susan Smith drowned her own kids by driving her car into a lake, falsely claiming she was carjacked. And these are the high profile cases we've heard about. Many more never get national or international acclaim but their acts are just as shocking and gruesome.
Professor Emeritus James Q. Wilson, the UCLA public policy expert, says: "We know from Census Bureau surveys that something beyond 100,000 uses of guns for self-defense occur every year. We know from smaller surveys of a commercial nature that the number may be as high as 2 1/2 or 3 million. We don't know what the right number is, but whatever the right number is, it's not a trivial number. Former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney David P. Koppel studied gun control for the Cato Institute. Citing a 1979-1985 study by the National Crime Victimization Survey, Koppel found: "When a robbery victim does not defend himself, the robber succeeds 88 percent of the time, and the victim is injured 25 percent of the time. When a victim resists with a gun, the robbery success rate falls to 30 percent, and the victim injury rate falls to 17 percent. No other response to a robbery – from drawing a knife to shouting for help to fleeing – produces such low rates of victim injury and robbery success." Lesson learned? Bad guys don't like an armed populous.
In Pearl, Miss., a gunman who killed two students and wounded seven at a high school was stopped by an assistant principal, who rushed to his car and got his gun. The assistant principal, running back with his .45, spotted the rifle-carrying shooter in the parking lot. Ordering the teen to stop, the vice principal held his gun to the shooter's neck until police arrived.
In Salt Lake City, a man purchased a knife in a grocery store, walked outside and stabbed and critically injured two men. He was threatening others, when a store patron with a concealed weapons permit drew his gun, forced the attacker to the ground and held him until police arrived.
In Grundy, Va., a disgruntled student on the verge of his second suspension at Appalachian School of Law shot and killed the dean, a professor and a fellow student. Two students, both off-duty peace officers, ran to their cars, retrieved their guns and used them to halt the attack.
No one knows whether Aurora would have turned out differently had there been an armed patron or two inside the theater. But at the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, where 32 people died, there was a no-guns policy – just as, apparently, at the movie theater in Aurora.
Most schools have a "no gun zone" policy and post signs that say so. While that may seem to make sense, it doesn't. Crazy people bent on destruction don't give a damn about signs. Those signs just limit sane people from defending themselves and others. Over the next few weeks and months, we'll see proposed legislation at the state and federal level meant to keep us safe from gun related deaths. But what they will produce are new laws that law abiding citizens will be forced to follow and reject nut jobs will ignore. The new laws may make you feel safer but will have little positive effect except to disarm those who should remain armed and vigilant. As for me, I choose to remain armed. I use my firearm as I use my car insurance. I hope never to use or need it. But would not think of moving through life without it.