There is evil in the world, and the face of it was seen Monday when James Holmes made his first court appearance since he allegedly killed 12 innocent people at a showing of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo. As he sat with demonic-looking dyed-orange hair and bizarre facial expressions, it was hard to conceive of any law that could thwart such a maniac intent on mass murder.
That hasn’t stopped those on the left from seizing this tragedy to call for more gun-control laws. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, author of the expired assault-weapons ban, said on Fox News Sunday that firearms like the AR-15 the Colorado shooter used are “weapons of war” that “are only going to be used to kill people in close combat. That’s the purpose of that weapon.”
Though it is one of the most popular rifles sold to civilians, the AR-15 is rarely used in crimes, presumably because it’s not readily concealed. The most recent FBI figures show just 358 of the 8,775 murders by firearm in 2010 involved rifles of any type. By comparison, 745 people were beaten to death with only hands that year, but no one has called for outlawing fists.
Mrs. Feinstein joins notorious gun-grabbers like New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in seeking to vilify guns based on their appearance, not their performance. The AR-15 series was designed to look like the military’s M-16, but it is semi-automatic. That means it fires only one round when the trigger is pulled, and that round is no more powerful than any shot by an ordinary hunting rifle.
The left applies the scary term “assault weapons” to play on emotional responses, but it isn’t working anymore. More Americans oppose banning so-called “assault rifles” (53 percent) than favor it (43 percent), according to a Gallup poll from October 2011. The poll also showed the lowest level of support for new gun laws in history.
In other words, the public has realized those laws don’t work. Gun-free zones, like the Aurora movie theater, leave criminals armed and unchallenged. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin pointed out on Fox News Sunday that if “a responsible individual had been carrying a weapon, maybe — maybe — they could have prevented the death and injuries.”
This is what happened in another Aurora shooting in April. A gunman opened fire at a church, killing the pastor’s mother. An off-duty police officer who was attending the service stopped further rampage by fatally shooting the killer.
It is natural to look for easy solutions to this problem, but the unpleasant truth is a free society can’t do much when it comes to this kind of evil. “Even if you didn’t have access to guns, this guy was diabolical,” said Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “He would have found explosives. He would have found something else — some sort of poisonous gas. He would have done something to create this horror.” The public is not well served by those who would use half-truths to take away our Second Amendment rights.
Click here to read part two on this topic, The Assault on Guns.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.