My sympathies to those whose friends and relatives died or were injured in the cinema shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
Turns out there was another shooting in Aurora back in April that we never heard about. Why? Because someone with a gun stopped it.
CBS DENVER (22 April): Police said two vehicles ended up in the church parking lot after some sort of argument between the drivers. Police said one vehicle was chasing the other. The man who was being chased got out of his vehicle and entered the church and told people to take cover. A woman came out of the church to see what was happening in the parking lot and got shot.
Police said an off-duty officer was at a service and went outside and shot the man who shot the woman.
“We do have two people shot,” Frank Fania with Aurora police said. “An off-duty officer was in the congregation and was involved in the shooting, but he is okay.”
How tragic the more recent shooter couldn’t have been ended the same way.
Now, you might object it’s too early to have this discussion. And yes, you’re right, it is. But the discussion has already been started by those opposed to the right to self defence. Writing at Forbes, Adam Ozimek observes:
First, as someone who is generally pro gun rights, it’s not my first instinct to write anything in the wake of tragedies involving firearms, but rather remain respectfully silent. But I also understand the motivation of those who want stricter gun laws to take this time to discuss policy. And we cannot both discuss gun laws and also insist on silence from everyone on one side of the discussion.
One question to ask is, in the presence of stronger gun laws what would the shooter have done? The IEDs and explosives that filled his apartment suggest that strong illegality wouldn’t have stopped him, as explosives like this are obviously very illegal. This also tells us that even if all guns were somehow kept out of his hands he would still have had extremely dangerous killing tools at his disposal. But realistically I am skeptical that laws could keep guns out of the hands of those determined to get them.
Pass as many laws as you like, but shooters are criminals—who by definition don’t respect laws.
So laws against guns don’t stop criminals. But they do disarm everyone else.
PS: Coloradans Ari Armstrong and his father Linn offer tips on how can you might safely respond if you’re ever unlucky enough to find yourself in a mass-shooting incident—and can keep a sufficiently cool head.
UPDATE 1: Yes, there’s a reason you rarely hear about it when a law-abiding gun owner is the hero. Not because it rarely happens, but because the mainstream media rarely if ever reports it. [Hat tip Julian P.]
Meanwhile, back in Switzerland…
UPDATE 2: Blaming tragedies like the ‘Batman’ cinema shootings on the availability of guns is plain wrong. Gun-control laws don’t stop massacres says Kevin Yuill at Spiked Online.
Whenever a senseless mass killing occurs – like the shootings in Colorado last weekend – pundits seem determined to make sense of it. A plethora of causes and hobbyhorses are wheeled out, closely following the ambulances that attended the harrowing scene. Precisely because the event is senseless, anyone can speculate on the causes. Some have branded the Colorado massacre a product of a sick society. Cultural explanations abound, too. One Congressman has pinned the blame on long-term national cultural decline. But most fingers were pointed at America’s ‘gun-crazy’ culture….British commentators, removed from the immediacy of the tragedy [were no exception]...
But this reaction is wrongheaded. First, crime rate and the availability of weapons are not correlated in any meaningful way. It is true that firearms-related homicides are much higher in the United States compared with Britain, the country with the most onerous gun controls in Europe. The US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world – an average of 88 per 100 people. That puts it first in the world for gun ownership. But Mexico has a much higher murder rate than the US, yet rates only twenty-eighth in the world for firearms deaths. Places like St Kitts in the Caribbean have a gun-homicide rate 10 times that of the US.
Moreover, Colorado has half the murder rate of Illinois, as adjusted for population. Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and New Hampshire, all full of guns, have far lower murder rates than gun-control states like New York, California and Illinois. The possession of guns simply does not correlate with the number of murders.
But we must also question whether any laws could possibly prevent such massacres. Colorado governor John Hickenlooper made the point that any individual as determined as James Holmes would be able to circumvent whatever laws or checks that were implemented. There was nothing in the 24-year-old’s past that would have alerted anyone looking for a potential maniac (though, of course, tales of ‘creepy’ phone messages soon made the news). As John McCain pointed out last year, Anders Breivik managed to kill 77 people in Norway, a country with far stricter gun controls than the US.
What almost [none of the British commentators] has mentioned – a particularly curious absence within those hectoring British commentaries so anxious to enlighten the colonies – was the deadly shootings at Whitehaven in the UK in 2010. Why have there been no comparisons between Derrick Bird’s atrocity in 2010, which also killed 12 people, and the massacre in Aurora? Perhaps it is because the Whitehaven shootings show that Britain’s draconian laws were absolutely worthless in preventing massacres.
And that is certainly off-message among most of the liberal elite.