iTHINK: TOWN SQUARE / OPINION
Movie theater shooting shows need for stricter gun control
The Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, scene of a brutal attack during "The Dark Knight Rises." (Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)
The story is chilling, according to police. James Eagen Holmes allegedly breaks through the exit of a movie theater's late-night showing of Christopher Nolan's new Batman film, throwing tear gas on the floor and shooting into a crowd of moviegoers. Holmes dyed his hair red and called himself "The Joker," the villain in the second installment, "The Dark Knight," a fact that makes this tragedy seem even scarier.
The attack left 12 dead and nearly 60 wounded. Authorities later revealed that all of the guns were purchased legally -- a fact that has caused much debate throughout the country.
There are undeniably pros and cons to both sides, and with them come the extremists -- some want guns eliminated entirely, while others (such as many of the members of the National Rifle Association) want no gun-control laws whatsoever. But after the shocking incident at Columbine in 1999, the heinous shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007, last year's sickening attack in Tucson, Ariz., along with last week's murders in Aurora, I strongly believe the following question needs to be asked: How many massacres will it take before our elected officials begin to take serious action into preventing these sort of crimes from occurring?
The one point that is constantly referred to by gun enthusiasts is the Second Amendment's right to bear arms. Personally, I would never purchase a gun, but I'm not delusional enough to believe that guns will ever be fully outlawed. Hunting is an activity I'll never understand, yet I recognize its popularity and fixture in our culture. I also recognize that crime is a bitter reality -- and if a person feels safer with a gun in his home, so be it.
But where do we draw the line? The Constitution was written more than 200 years ago. It remains an incredible lesson in lawmaking that preserves our democracy. That doesn't mean every syllable can be used to argue the illogical.
"Arms," in the 1700s, were mostly limited to muskets and knives. Times change. We live in a world with automatic guns capable of killing masses of people. If the Constitution protects our "right to bear arms," should we extend that to include bombs and nuclear weapons? Of course not. Nor should we allow 24-year-olds to purchase an assault rifle, a shotgun, two handguns, and 6,000 rounds of ammunition -- especially within two months. It's common sense. Protection is one thing. But Holmes allegedly was buying enough weapons to attack dozens of civilians at a time.
Of course, there is the possibility that, even with strong gun-control laws (such as a federal ban on all semi-automatic and automatic weapons), Holmes would have found another way to purchase them. If he really wanted to attack a movie theater crowd with powerful weapons, he probably could have used whatever black market is available for such items. But, boy, are we making it easy for lunatics when we allow them to purchase such harmful and dangerous devices with such ease.
One of the most horrifying aspects of this story is that the movies are one of the most unifying activities in American life. We all go to movies -- from kids and teenagers to adults and seniors. It could have been anyone in that theater. It could have been me, and it could have been you. Where do we stand as a society when we can't even go to our local movie theater to see a superhero flick without having to worry about a crazed gunman breaking through the doors?
There is a scene in "The Dark Knight Rises" when Catwoman and Batman fight together against the evil forces of Bane's army. When Catwoman gets ahold of a gun, Batman forces the weapon aside, saying "No guns. No killing." It's his one and only rule. Guns, as Batman says in an old comic strip circling the Web, are "the weapon of the enemy."
The Caped Crusader has a point -- and it's about time we all begin to recognize it.
Avery Maehrer, a graduate of Emmaus High School, is a sophomore at Temple University.
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