Lessons From the “Batman Shooter”

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Sheepdog-Iconography---SoapboxAs I write this, two days have passed since a horrific mass murder at a crowded midnight opening of “The Dark Knight Rises” movie. During one of the scenes of this dark comic book movie based on the “Batman” franchise, a killer went out and retrieved several weapons through a propped-open exit door. He then walked in and tossed at least one gas-type grenade (tear gas or smoke), and then calmly started shooting people in the audience. As of today, 12 people were killed and 58 were wounded enough to require a trip to the hospital. This psychopath injured or killed 70 people, and terrorized an unknown number more.

As I initially heard of the shooting, I bowed my head and prayed for the victims, their families, and the responders. This tragedy will change the lives of hundreds of people directly, and potentially even more. The victims and their families will live with this for the rest of their lives, and the responders that have to deal with the aftermath are working with a scene that most will never have seen before, or see again.And as I feared, shortly after this murderous rampage, the crass media and opportunistic politicians began crying out for more gun control, and for more laws. Within 12 hours, the main stream media had already tried to (falsely) paint this madman as a member of the “Tea Party”, as a listener to “Talk Radio” and as a “Libertarian”. Their evidence? One page of the Colorado Tea Party website happened to mention a gentleman with the same name (but it was later shown NOT the same person).

And then the usual opportunistic slime, err, politicians started talking. Billionaire anti-gun, anti-freedom, New York City mayor Bloomberg was holding his first (of many) press conferences hollering for the need for more gun control. Members of the Obama administration, and other anti-gun Democrats were also very quick to jump on the bandwagon and say, “SEE! This is why no one should own guns!”. These cries reverberated on the main stream media, and by the end of day one, almost every TV station, newspaper, or program that even leaned slightly to the left was laced with stories of handwringing about those “evil assault rifles” and “hi-capacity clips”.

As far as I could tell, only one media outlet (ABC, surprisingly) released the fact that all the weapons were semi-automatic (one bullet for each trigger pull), instead of a fully automatic machine gun. This mass murderer apparently had an AR-15 rifle (similar to police-issue rifles), a 12-gauge shotgun (police-style weapon) and a .40 caliber Glock handgun (favored by most police departments, and used by a lot of civilian gun-owners). He also was wearing a bullet-resistant vest (not bullet-proof), and a gas mask, similar to the style the villain Bane wore in the movie. All of this, and the media was first to jump to the conclusion that this psychopath was a “conservative tea party member”.

As the crass politicians turn this tragedy into political points, I tried to refrain from writing some of the obvious rebuttals to they’re lunacy. As more crass statements are made by shameless politicians, I thought I’d correct some of the more lunatic points and statements. As I do this, I am trying not to turn this tragedy into a a political discussion. And it is with a heavy heart that I even respond this far, wishing instead to honor the victims and some of the heroes. Instead, I am forced to discuss rather idiotic statements. It is also my hope that I can offer some concrete lessons that we, the people, can learn.

First, most of the crass idiocy spewing forth from politicians mouths are simply inane, feel-good thoughts that have no basis in reality. The largest of these is that we need to have more gun control laws. These cowards hide behind armed security, while loudly proclaiming that no one should have any guns, and this would cure the gun violence. At the surface level, this would seem to make sense. After all, the argument goes, if no one can legally own a gun, then they can’t be used to murder people.

Unfortunately, this breaks down rather quickly under the cold, hard facts. Take a look at gun violence in places where firearms are banned or heavily controlled. Look at England and Australia, and you will see two countries that have a ban on almost all firearms, yet gun violence is a rapidly rising tide. A look closer to home, at Mayor Bloomberg’s prized New York City, shows some of the toughest laws preventing law-abiding citizens to own guns, yet shows that 54,260 violent crimes have been committed (a great deal of those with firearms). If draconian gun laws worked< why wouldn’t they be working there? Or how about Chicago? In the first 6 months of 2012, over 240 people have been murdered, most of those with handguns. This in a city that bans handguns.

As reality sets in, a critical examination of the premise reveals the largest flaw: if someone is willing to violate the highest law with the harshest penalty (murder), what will stop them from breaking a relatively minor law (getting a gun illegally)? This rabid psychopath was willing to murder as many people as he could, why do we presume that some new law would stop him? Instead, I would like to ask a different question: what would have changed if someone who was trained and carried a firearm with them was there in that theater?

Some of the talking heads are calling for more laws because this psychopath was able to legally purchase all of his weaponry over the last two months. They cry that tougher laws or regulations would have stopped this murderer. What about the killers at Columbine High School? The boys who massacred their fellow students broke numerous state and federal laws, including laws that forbade them from owning the weapons they had. Those laws didn’t stop anyone on that fateful day at Columbine, and they would not have stopped this murderer. Again, laws really only affect law-abiding people, and allow for charges if a criminal gets caught. They CANNOT, and NEVER HAVE stopped a killing or massacre.

What about businesses that have those “No Firearms” signs up? It feels good to put up those signs, and the non-thinking person would “feel” that they are safer in that business, because no one will have a gun. In fact, the theater chain in Aurora where the mass murder took place was a business that did not allow firearms in their theater. This rule was certainly followed – by everyone EXCEPT the psychopath that murdered 12 people and injured 58 more. Again reality interferes in this type of thinking. A sign (much like a law) only affects the LAW-ABIDING citizen. While the law-abiding citizen will follow the law, and even the signs, the madman intent on killing will NEVER obey the laws and signs. If a psychopath is willing to commit murder (against the law), they are certainly willing to carry a firearm where the sign says no. It is simple, these signs do not work.

What positive lessons can be learned from this tragedy? I believe the largest lesson is that “feel-good” rules and laws will not ever stop a killer. They might make the typical person feel a little better, but I believe they are actually MORE dangerous. Look at the vast majority of mass killings in the last ten to fifteen years. Where did they take place? With few exceptions every mass attack or murder in America has taken place where firearms were BANNED, either by law or by policy. The theater in Aurora, Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, malls, schools, churches, Chicago, and even the post office. Even an army base, where firearms are only available to guards and training, has had a mass murder.Notice that they do not happen at police stations, gun ranges, or even the NRA convention – where all those evil gun-totin’ tea party conservatives hang out. You would almost think that these cowards wanted to shoot up places where no one was shooting back.

The feel good policy at the theater in Aurora certainly did not stop that madman. What if citizens were legally allowed to be armed there? If just one citizen would have been carrying a firearm, and was able to return fire, either stopping the attack or drawing the killer’s attention away from the others, how many lives might have been saved? My personal philosophy is simple, if a store chooses to ask me to be defenseless, I don’t go into that store. It is they’re choice for the policy, and it is my choice to not spend money there. If a place is regulated by the state, I might occasionally go there, but I go as little as possible. I believe the first lesson is to fight against these feel-good policies, and to not support those businesses that wish to hamper your ability to defend yourself and your family. And when you do not use a business because of this, make sure to (politely) let them know that neither you, nor your friends and family will be populating their store.

The next lesson is that violence can happen anywhere, to anyone, by anyone. This theater is not in the “bad part of town”. The movie was not a controversial movie. And the psychopath was a “brilliant student” and studying neuroscience at a local medical school. No one standing in line that night with this madman ever thought twice about being in the same theater. No one thought that they would be injured or die that night. And certainly no one believed that they would ever remember the night as anything other than seeing a movie. One single psychopath changed that forever. The cold reality is that violence can happen anywhere, to anyone. It behooves you to be at least cognizant of your surroundings.

The final lesson we might draw from this is that we, as a group of people who support the 2nd Amendment, need to take the language of our heritage back. We can make two very positive changes easily, and those two changes will affect how we, our heritage, and even these massacres are perceived. As you have read through this article, I hope you noticed two items that I left out. First, I have never mentioned the psychopath’s name, and I have to thank Lt. Col. David Grossman for that. Col. Grossman has a great point in his “Bulletproof Mind” series. These guys typically want their “15 minutes” of fame. When we refuse to use their names, we rob them of that “glory”. I have made that change in my speech, I hope you do the same. They don’t reserve to be “rewarded” with fame by being remembered for killing. Forget their names, remember the victims and heroes.

Second, aside from the title of this article, you will notice that I never refer to the massacre as a “shooting”, nor do I refer to the killer as a “shooter”. Col. Grossman is also responsible for this change in me, and I hope that you make the same change. Shooting is a noble sport, profession and skill. Whether used in hunting to provide food, or to defend yourself, your family, or your country, shooting itself is honorable, and true shooters are honorable. These killers are not shooters. They are killers, madmen, rabid dogs, or psychopaths. They do not commit “shootings”. They commit murder, massacre innocents, kill, or assault. Words have meaning, and by changing the language, we change the debate into our favor. Do you carry a “heater” or a “piece”? I don’t I carry a tool, a firearm. Change the language and change the debate.

So what can we learn? Feel-good laws and policies only hurt the law-abiding citizen. Violence can happen anywhere, to anyone. And we need to take back the language of our heritage. It is with a heavy heart that I wade into this article, and with trepidation that I tried to avoid turning this tragedy into a political discussion. I pray for the victims and their families in Aurora, Colorado. I also pray for the responders who will be dealing with the cleanup from this massacre.

Stay Safe. Stay Sharp. Keep the wolves at bay.

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