Before I get to the point of this post, let me offer my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the shooting at the theater in Aurora, Colorado this morning. I also would like to offer up my prayers to all the victims of this tragedy. I define the victims to include those who were injured and, with the exception of the gunman, all those who were present and their families. I realize that by the title of this post, my meaning may be taken by some of the victims to trivialize, demean, or capitalize on their pain. For that, I apologize.
I know very little about what happened. The media admits to knowing not much more. However, one of the very first things I heard this morning following the simple accounting of the dead and wounded, was a call NOT to politicize this. I may be wrong, but "politicizing" a shooting always sounds to me as though it means, "don't call for stricter gun control laws." Those who say we shouldn't politicize this with that meaning are, by definition, politicizing it.
Since this is an election year, the next thing mentioned by the media was the response from the candidates, and speculation about what they would say about it at public events. Regardless of what the President and Governor say, and by now they have both spoken, as politicians, every word is political. This includes their expressions of sympathy and offers of comfort. That is not to question their sincerity, it is just fact.
The media is now shifting into "Why" mode. They are wondering what could have motivated this gunman and whether or not he acted alone. Personally, I don't care about the why right now. All I care about is the fact that, as of this writing, 12 lives were taken, 50 other people were wounded, and hundreds more were put in jeopardy. I have written often that I believe the primary purpose of government is to protect the unalienable rights of its citizens. I also believe that the Constitution was written with that express purpose in mind.
The National Rifle Association will no doubt express their regrets about the tragedy, but then stress that this is no reason for new restrictions on gun owners. They will likely vigorously defend their Second Amendment right to bear arms, and may even assert that more armed citizens could have prevented or at least mitigated this tragedy. Let me say two things about that. First, your Second Amendment right to own a gun should be trumped by my unalienable right not to need one. Second, President Reagan was surrounded by the best trained, best armed men in the world and he was still nearly killed by a gunman.
Some may claim that I do not have an unalienable right not to need a gun. They may cite The Declaration of Independence mentioning "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" as my unalienable rights. What they are forgetting are the words that proceed them. To wit, "that among these are." This implies that there are many unalienable rights that Mr. Jefferson did not specifically enumerate.
So why politicize this tragedy? It seems to me that as Americans, we believe inherently in our liberty. That belief is so ingrained in us that we can become complacent, only acknowledging threats when they become personal. Who among us goes to the movies? Who might go to a shopping center where a local politician is making an appearance? Who gets on an airplane? Who goes to school?
There are many threats to our liberties that go unperceived. We are okay with Voter ID laws, warrant-less wiretaps, and indefinite detentions because they are not going to happen to us. However, welfare and healthcare are examples of the government making us dependent on them. To enforce this coming dependency they are going to seize our guns.
The number of people killed in America by guns every year is many times the number killed on 9/11. It can happen to me and it can happen to you. Carrying a gun is not the most effective method of prevention. Limiting access to guns does a much better job. Congress recently debated a bill that would have forced states to honor other states concealed-carry laws. New York Times columnist, Gail Collins wrote a piece responding to an elected official from the midwest who felt this law would make New York's Central Park safer. She pointed out that New York City actually had fewer gun deaths than this official's state.
The Gun Lobby wants more guns; guns in school, guns in church, guns in bars. They protested discrimination by wearing their guns to a Starbucks. Discrimination? Really? Is "No shirt, no shoes, no service" discrimination? If I walk into Starbucks naked, it can't kill anybody (well, maybe with laughter); someone walking in with a gun can.
Trayvon Martin would be alive today if George Zimmerman did not have a gun. The majority of those shot and killed by people claiming defense under Stand Your Ground laws were unarmed and deserve to be alive today. Our government is failing to protect these peoples right to life. What will it take to change this? Aurora, Tucson, Virginia Tech, Columbine. Politicize every single one. Let us honor the victims who survived and he memories of those who didn't every day, by trying to ensure they are the last.
It can happen to you, your husband or wife, your brother or sister, your children, your parents, or anybody you care about. Politicize Aurora until everyone gets that message. Keep politicizing it until everyone understands that while people kill people, people with guns find it a lot easier.
The next time this happens, and it will happen again, one of the first things we will hear is "Don't politicize it." That is why it will happen again. Might I suggest we exchange that sentiment for another one: "Never again!"