24 July 2012
Today James Holmes, the man accused of carrying out the deadly shooting rampage at a Colorado movie theatre, appeared in court - for the first time since his arrest.
He is accused of killing 12 people and leaving another 58 injured in the United States during a mass shooting at a midnight screening of the 'The Dark Knight Rises'.
When I first heard about the shooting on an AM radio station, I was surprised to hear that authorities responded to the attack by banning costumes and face masks at future screenings of the movie. Yeah, because it was his apparent 'costume' that was the problem. Never mind the gas canisters, assault rifle, shotgun, handguns and the 600 rounds of ammunition that he had. By the way, the suspect purchased all of these items - legally - in the weeks leading up to the attack.
The attack has prompted fresh calls for immediate action on gun control in the US. The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, was one of the first to publicly call for further action during a radio interview. He criticised the two Presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, for offering sympathy to the victims saying it is not enough. “Maybe it's time the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they're going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country." he said.
Mr Bloomberg has a point. It's all well and good know the victims of the massacre are in the thoughts and prayers of a nation but how is that going prevent this from happening again? Truth is, it's not.
I want to know how one man was able to legally purchase all of those items without anyone asking any questions? Maybe I don't understand it because I've never lived in America and have never had the luxury (I use that term very loosely) of being able to own and operate my own gun.
Last year, I went on a holiday to the US and I visited a shooting range. Now, I know it's not nearly the same thing as living there and owning your own gun, but I was still surprised at how easily I was able to gain access to a number of different rifles, handguns and types of ammunition. No questions were asked of me or the people I was travelling with except, “which package would you like purchase?” We walked into the shooting range (which, by the way, was inside a busy shopping centre) picked our package, shot our weapons of choice, received our targets and a complimentary gun-shaped pen and left. It was definitely an experience and I left there thinking “how was I able to do that with such ease?”
The calls for tighter gun control by the New York mayor have been backed by others including the Brady Centre to Prevent Gun Violence, named after the White House press secretary wounded in an assassination attempt against US President Ronald Reagan in 1981. According to the Brady Centre more than 10,000 people are shot dead in America every year. An average of eight children and teenagers are shot dead every day. These statistics are alarming and I haven't even scratched the surface of the figures I've discovered during my research.
Probably the most worrying fact I came across was that guns can be sold in the United States without a background check to screen out criminals or the mentally ill. Of course acquisition and ownership laws vary from state to state but, basically a person can legally own a rifle or shotgun once they turn 18. That means in America you can legally posses your own gun before you're are allowed to drink alcohol! Does anyone else see a problem with this?
The Colorado cinema shooting is not the first of its kind. In recent years there have been a number of mass killings in America, all of which, contribute to the argument supporting stronger gun control. They include:
• The mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999 where two senior students carried out a massacre that killed 12 students and a teacher.
• The school shooting at Virginia Tech University in 2007 in which 32 people were shot and killed. Another 17 were wounded in the attack.
• Even more recently, in January 2011, US Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people were shot during a public meeting held in a supermarket parking lot in Arizona. Six people died.
Gun control is a big issue which divides voters in every country. As we are in the middle of an American election year it will be interesting to see how the Presidential hopefuls address the issue, if at all. An overwhelming majority of US citizens are devoted to their right to bear arms, so realistically I think it's unlikely that change will come about. I don't think that either of the candidates can afford to lose such a big chunk of the vote. I guess all we can do is hope that it doesn't take another tragic incident like this to insight change to the second amendment.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue so send me a tweet @Staceylee_ or leave a comment below.
Comments are moderated and will not appear until they have been approved.
George Phillip, Australia (17 October 2012 3:32PM) wrote:
I went to Virginia Tech. What happened there was tragic. Gun control is USA is definitely long overdue.
Gabriela, Oklahoma (4 October 2012 10:10PM) wrote:
Where I live asking somonee if they own a gun would get a "yes" about as often as asking them if they owned a car. The truth that when secnds count the police are ony minutes away is quite obviouis in rural America.I bought my first pistol a few weeks ago, primarily for home protection and to carry on walks and bicycle rides. You never know what kind of animals my pop out of the woods. Bears and mountain lions have been reported in my county. I've seen a bobcat on my back porch and in my front yard. Plus a wild dog or coyote is always a possibilty.As for doctors, my doctor made enough mistakes in my treatment for me to go elsewhere. Simple stuff like incorrectly running glucose test and such. We could save a lot of lives if doctors policed themselves better. I keep my gun unloaded but the clip and gun within reach of each other.
TONY, SOUTH AFRICA (21 September 2012 3:52PM) wrote:
It is a major isue now here in South Africa. We had 3422 murders here during the period March 2011 to April 2012. Our attempted murders were 3666. So firearms do provoke society and freedom. What I dont understand is that in the USA, the freedom to purchase fire arms. here in South Africa the rules have become strict.How ever we get held up in our houses and all the guys want are our fire arms. So they get their "hands " on ilegal fire arms very quickly. I think the USA has a major challenge .
Sebastian, Rhode Island (14 September 2012 8:10AM) wrote:
Ugh I've had arguments with some people in my own family regarding the "needs" issue. Their stance is basically that, unless you live in a high-crime area, or work in a high-risk profession, you simply do not "need" a weapon, period point blank. When I questioned their "need" for medical insurance, despite their youth and relative health, their "need" for auto insurance, despite their clean driving record and generally responsible habits, or their "need" for a large SUV when they were a childless couple that never drives off-road, they got a little irritated. People advocating limits on an activity or features of a product that they're completely ignorant about wouldn't be tolerated in any other field except for firearms. Why is that? I'm not a fisherman, I know nothing about fishing, bait and tackle, appropriate sizes of fish to be caught, or what might constitute an inappropriate fishing method, so if I were a legislator and attempted to put some kind of limit on fishing and fishermen's equipment, I'd be loudly (and rightly) laughed out of the room. Yet, if I'm totally ignorant about firearms, yet introduce legislation that will make it illegal to own a gun, I'm applauded.
Blake Wilson, (31 August 2012 2:24PM) wrote:
I don't disagree with you on your points but I think it does farther than that. As far as the post graduate people go they are so far removed from real life they just can't comprehend why any one would want to be violent and they are extremely afraid of it.. To them guns are the cause of all violence, get rid of guns and everything will be just hunky dory. I can see why women hate guns. They blame all violence on guns and are tired of having their husbands and boy friends beating the crap out of them and then sticking a gun in their face to further intimidate them. Alcohol does not make alcoholics and guns do not make murders and pencils do not make novelists. People just don't want to face the fact that mankind is a bunch of unpredictable , dangerous and violent animals. It has been that way since the Cain Able event. Hiding from the truth and spouting gibberish to camouflage it will not change anything. I personally don;t think any one at any time should allowed to posses a gun except me.