Guns do not kill people. People kill people.
That is the mantra of the National Rifle Association and everyone else who advocates making it easy for people to buy guns in America.
And they are 100 percent correct. People are the ones doing the killing. A person – 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes – killed 12 people and wounded 58 in Colorado. His gun was just a convenience for him. Guns do not kill people. People kill people. Just imagine the damage he could have done with a knife.
And that is the point. Imagine how many people would have died if he could not have gained access to a gun.
According to news reports, he bought a Glock pistol on May 22 from a gun shop in Aurora. On May 28, he bought a shotgun from a Denver store. On June 7, he bought an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle. On July 6, he added a second Glock pistol.
He also bought 3,000 rounds of ammunitions for his pistols, 3,000 rounds for his assault rifle, and 350 shells for his shotgun. All these purchases were done over the internet.
Holmes made all of his purchases legally. At no point did anyone raise a red flag and say, “What does this man need with 6,000 round of ammunition and 350 shotgun shells?”
Of course, no one could ask that question, because there are no laws that would create a central data base for such purchases – a data base that would have to be consulted before a weapon or ammunition can be sold.
New York State is considering legislation that would establish a central database for all drugstore prescriptions. Fill a request for Percoset at a CVS pharmacy in Albany and the druggist at the Rite-Aid in Cliffside Park will have access to that information instantly. The system is meant to cut down on people “prescription shopping” to buy drugs they really should not have.
If such a system exists and can be put to use to help prevent drug abuse, how much more so can such a system be used to prevent another James Eagan Holmes from stocking up on guns and ammunition without anyone noticing?
We urge our state and federal legislators to push for such a law. The idea that our civil rights would be violated by such recordkeeping is inane. The civil rights of 70 people were violated violently when Holmes opened fire in the Aurora theater. The civil rights of the families of the victims were violated. The civil rights of everyone in that theater that night was violated. As Justice Robert H. Jackson observed many years ago, “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.”
As for the whole “second amendment” argument – the right to bear arms – we can quibble about whether that right exists once there is a standing army. What we should not quibble about is the nature of the arms permitted. A simple handgun will suffice to satisfy the Second Amendment. There is no reason for anyone outside law enforcement and the military to be allowed to buy automatic weapons of any kind, much less 6,000 rounds of ammunition at a clip.
Guns do not kill people, as long as they remain in the display case. People who buy guns intend to use them. Some may aim those guns at targets, others at deer, still others at black bears. And some will aim those guns at other people. The only way to stop them from doing so is not let them have the guns in the first place.