Sunday, November 18, 2012
The Breaking Dawn murder plot and our love affair with guns
If you have been following the news, Lammers is the young man who was contemplating a murderous shooting spree, either at the premiere of "Breaking Dawn," the final chapter in the "Twilight" saga, or at a Wal-Mart store, where he would have access to more ammunition if 400 rounds did not turn out to be enough.
Despite the fact that only a mother's intervention kept us from having yet another mass killing, in the wake of similar occurrences at the "Dark Knight" screening in Aurora, Colo., and at a supermarket in Arizona, there is no outcry for measures to stop this epidemic from spreading.
After all, as we have been told time and time again, it is not guns that kill people, it is people that kill people, a sentiment that is absolutely correct. But why do we have to make it so easy for these people who kill people to have access to heavy artillery?
Blaec Lammers had little or no experience with guns, according to news accounts, Yet Lammers, who has a history of mental problems, had no difficulty buying far more weaponry than anyone could conceivably need for personal protection or for sporting purposes.
Though two days have passed since Lammers' plan was revealed, there has not been a single elected official in Missouri calling for something to be done about the easy access to the type of weapons that simply are not needed and are not what is called for in the Second Amendment.
And who can blame our officials for not saying anything? In Missouri, if you practice your First Amendment right to say something about the Second Amendment, you will face an avalanche of knee jerk responses from people who fear if they make any concession whatsoever that some type of regulation of firearm access is needed, they are opening the door and allowing government storm troopers to sweep in and confiscate their guns.
At the same time, Missouri legislators are proposing bills each year to further increase access to guns anywhere and everywhere. When Missourians voted in the '90s not to allow concealed weapons to be carried, legislators ignored the result and passed the law anyway. After all, the argument from those who supported conceal/carry went, it wasn't real Missourians who defeated the measure, it was just people from Kansas City and St. Louis.
A reasonable person can understand the need for carrying concealed weapons for personal protection, but the laws and proposed laws have come one after the other during every legislative session. The Missouri General Assembly was one of the first in the nation to pass the so-called Castle Doctrine law, one of those pieces of legislation designed to combat a problem that did not exist. Supposedly, there were hundreds of cases of people who had been arrested and jailed because they used guns to protect their property and lives. When that legislation was first proposed in the Show-Me State, I repeatedly asked someone to show me one case in which someone was deprived of their freedom because they had used a weapon to defend themselves- years later, I am still waiting. It never happened, but it certainly helped the National Rifle Association to keep the membership dues flowing when it sounded a rallying cry that people were being deprived of their right to shoot somebody any time they need to shoot somebody.
It was the same sort of twisted logic that led to the "Stand Your Ground" legislation that ultimately led to the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida.
In Missouri, we have had laws proposed that would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who were in favor of protecting their Second Amendment rights...despite no evidence that any employer had ever discriminated against anyone on those grounds. The elected officials who propose this type of frivolous legislation are the same ones who would oppose any bills protecting the rights of women, gays, minorities, and others who are far more likely to be discriminated against- and who can document the discrimination.
It hasn't been that long since a Missouri representative proposed legislation mandating that churches allow people to carry concealed weapons. This was in response to a shooting in a Micronesian church in Neosho. Thankfully, our churches have yet to be forced to allow people to carry guns (another case of those who favor Second Amendment rights' willingness to trample on others' First Amendment rights).
After word of the "Breaking Dawn' plot surfaced, I immediately read numerous comments from people who said that what is needed is for everyone to be able to carry weapons so that if someone like Blaec Lammers or James Holmes opens fire in a crowded theater, they can pull their weapons and blow them away.
Somehow that scenario does not offer me much comfort.
Can anyone really offer a rational reason why civilians need to carry assault weapons? Legislation that would curb the easy access to these weapons would not deprive anyone of the ability to protect his or her life or property. It would not violate anyone's Second Amendment rights.
Quite the contrary, it would make sense.
And that is why it is never going to happen in the Missouri General Assembly and that is why it is never going to happen in Congress.