The midnight massacre at a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo., has put the issue of gun control back at center stage. Leftist lawmakers and TV anchors jumped the gun with the usual calls to restrict the Second Amendment. Propaganda aside, preventing tragedies like this in the future involves giving citizens the ability to fight back, not just be sitting ducks.
Invariably when a tragedy like this occurs, politicians and pundits seek quickly to spin it to their advantage. ABC News rushed out a report linking the shooter to the Colorado Tea Party, apparently based on a few seconds of Internet research that yielded the name "Jim Holmes" on a Tea Party website. Predictably, it turned out that this Jim Holmes is not the 24-year-old alleged shooter but a 52-year-old Hispanic conservative, whose ethnicity doesn't fit the dominant mainstream media narrative. ABC News later apologized for "disseminating that information before it was properly vetted." This was a particularly egregious breach of journalistic discipline considering that the suspect was already in custody and many details regarding his life and motives would soon be made public.
Gun-control advocates wasted no time before using the tragedy to highlight their pet issue. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg offered a useless policy prescription for gun violence: "It's just gotta stop." CNN host Piers Morgan took to the Twittersphere to advise, "America has got to do something about its gun laws" and fret that "more Americans will buy guns after this, to defend themselves, and so the dangerous spiral descends."
Mr. Morgan's implied moral equivalency between violent psychopaths and responsible gun owners is shameful and misplaced. The contrast is well-illustrated by a recent event in Ocala, Fla., in which 71-year-old Samuel Williams broke up an armed robbery attempt at an Internet cafe using a legal, concealed handgun. The event was vividly captured on store security cameras and became an Internet sensation. It showed what can happen when people have the means to defend themselves and the gumption not to be victims.
There was no return fire at the theater in Aurora because apparently no one other than the shooter was armed. While Colorado has good concealed-carry laws, Cinemark cinemas don't allow guns on their premises. The Cinemark massacre illustrates the ineffectiveness of this private gun-control policy.
Granted, the circumstances of the two events were different. The cafe robbers came to steal, not slaughter. They were teenage punks, not psychopaths. The Batman shooter was wearing body armor, and the scene in the theater was dark and chaotic. An armed audience member may have shot another patron by mistake. But he may also have found his mark, and the shooting rampage could have been ended with far fewer casualties. Those who argue that tighter gun control would have prevented this tragedy should consider the possibility that gun control made it as deadly as it was.
The Aurora mass murder and similar tragedies prove that super villains exist, but there is no real-life Batman who will swoop to the rescue with a fancy gadget and ensure a happy ending. In a culture that increasingly glorifies violence, citizens -- more than ever -- need to have the means to exercise their right to self defense.
The Washington Times
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