As I’ve followed the tragic killings in Aurora, CO, I wondered about what would drive a person to do such a heinous act. How did he go from a brilliant doctoral student to a mass murderer? What could anyone have done to stop him? What can we do to prevent it from happening again?
The Colorado theatre shootings were a massive tragedy. And such questions as these may never be answered.
In light of the Aurora murders, the debate over gun control has surged to the forefront of the American consciousness. Some say if guns had been outlawed, the shooter would not have had access to them. Others contend if guns are outlawed, only outlaws, who disobey laws, are the ones who would have them. What are we to conclude in such divisive debate?
Finally, I decided to do some research. Here’s what I found in a simple internet search on the history of gun control and its ramifications:
In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, deprived of the means to defend themselves, were rounded up and killed.
In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1935, about 20 million dissidents were captured and killed. Millions more were sent to gulags over the next 50 and more years of Soviet rule.
In 1938, Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, over 13 million Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, mentally ill, union leaders, Catholics and others, deprived of the means to defend themselves, were rounded up and killed in prisons and concentration camps. Adolph Hitler said the establishment of gun control in his regime in Nazi Germany was the single largest cause in the consolidation of his totalitarian control.
In 1935, China established gun control. From 1948 to 1952, about 20 million dissidents were murdered. Dissidents in China are still persecuted, forced from their homes and employment and often imprisoned.
In 1956, Cambodia established gun control. From 1975 to 1977, over 1 million “educated people” were rounded up and killed.
In 1956, Guatemala established gun control. From 1964 to 1981, over 100,000 native Mayans, deprived of the means to defend themselves, were slaughtered.
In 1970, Uganda established gun control. From 1970 to 1979, 300,000 Christians were murdered after horrific persecution.
The cost of nations establishing gun control has been approximately 55,900,000 million people in about 30 years, or 186,334 people per year. On the other hand, Switzerland has never had gun control, and has consistently had the lowest murder/suicide rates in the entire Western world.
Edmund Burke said, “Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” My simple internet research leads me to wonder if those who wish to control guns are, in their zeal to right a wrong, seeking to condemn our country to repeat the same fate as these ill-fated peoples, in a knee-jerk emotional reaction to this senseless tragedy.
So, what to do? I read of people who refuse to attend the movie, or any movie, because of it. I don’t believe this is an appropriate reaction, either.
It’s not the movie’s fault, or the fault of movies in general. The writers, director, cast and crew certainly didn’t make it with the intent of movie-goers being killed in their theatre seats. To refuse to see it is to deny them the right of us as moviegoers honoring and appreciating their hard work. The movie’s star Christian Bale has been photographed in Aurora, showing sympathy for the victims and their families. Not going it or to the movies at all seems like a cat who, after being burned on a hot stove, refuses to get on any stoves, even cold ones, for fear of burning. It’s like the reactions of people who refused to fly after September 11. By not flying, their fear let terrorism win.
I cannot say I am any kind of expert on these complicated questions. But what I have learned tells me when we have knee-jerk reactions into extremism of any kind to senseless, human-caused tragedy, the bad guys win. Tragedies are times to stop, grieve and let the grief process take its time with us. Decisions made in the heat of a tragedy’s emotional aftermath are all too often later regretted, and even more often far too difficult to undo.