Traverse City Record-Eagle


Gun violence?

Troy Keith, The Armchair ConservativeAlmost immediately after the recent tragedy in Colorado, reports began to surface on ABC suggesting a “right wing” or Tea Party association with this senseless act.  Three hours later, numerous blog posts claiming the shooter was actually a member of Black Bloc, a radical fringe of the Occupy movement, began to spread throughout the Internet. To date, neither claim has been substantiated but the fact that accusations were flying before the blood had even dried points again to the growing divide in our society.

Rather than seeking answers or explanations, our first response is now to point fingers as we race to assign blame to the other side.  Once a convenient political affiliation had been ruled out, gun control advocates began mobilizing in a national effort to spin the horrific scene into an argument for greater limitations on the 2nd amendment.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg decried the violence and demanded that the presidential candidates address the issue,

“Soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country.”

He went on to add, “I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day. It’s just gotta stop.”

OK, so, “It’s just gotta stop”. Suggestions?  Answers?  Solutions?  None to be found but you can rest assured that we’ll be hearing the debate for weeks to come.  I’d be curious to hear what the mayor and others might suggest.

All major networks and virtually every form of media have taken up the torch in an effort to reignite the gun control debate.  Perhaps it’s just me, but I fail to see what any law affecting gun ownership has to do with the violence in Aurora.  I have not checked the local statutes, but I’m confident that it’s already illegal to gun people down in a movie theater.  Reports have also hinted that the shooter had taken drugs – perhaps he sped on the way to the theater and parked in a handicapped zone as well?

The standard retort to gun legislation is the argument that even if all guns were outlawed, criminals would still find ways to acquire and use them.  We cannot stem the tide of drugs and aliens across our borders – why would guns be any different?  The fallacy of the “gun free zone” line of reasoning has been demonstrated time and time again in numerous cities with some of the most stringent anti-gun laws on the books.  Washington, D.C., is known for having what are arguably the toughest anti-gun laws in the country, yet they led the nation in both firearm robberies and murders in 2011.

New York and Chicago are also bastions of strict gun-control laws and both are veritable war zones today.  NY had seen a modest reduction in gun violence after initiating their controversial  “stop and frisk” program, but after repeated cries of racism and harassment, the policy has been drastically curtailed.

The 2nd amendment seems very clear on the legality of gun ownership despite decades of repeated attempts to muddy the waters.  Control advocates have set their sights on local  municipalities relying on the sheer volume of blue voters to turn their visions into reality.  Unfortunately, the streets in these designated gun-free havens continue to be littered with bodies rather than plowshares.

Another tried and true adage is, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  In the case of the Aurora shooter, his apartment was a literal minefield of booby-traps and IEDs.  If for some reason James Holmes was unable to acquire a firearm, there are countless ways he could have brought about lethal mayhem.  Given his educational background and obvious intelligence, some sort of nerve agent or chemical weapon was probably well within his capabilities – constructing a powerful explosive certainly would have been a fairly simple task for such an individual.  Simply removing one option will not deter a psychopath from wreaking havoc.

Perhaps the best counter for gun violence is a competent individual with a valid CCW permit.  This would have been a difficult situation in Aurora as the assailant was wearing body armor, but even in the worst case scenario, his attention would have been diverted and many others may have escaped harm.  In cases such as the Norway massacre last year, police were 90 minutes away and the helpless victims sat like so many fish in a barrel.  Columbine, it could be argued, was much the same and the Fort Hood incident was only stopped when Nidal Hasan was confronted by other weapon fire.

No one is suggesting we return to the days of the Wild West with armed citizens settling their differences in the dusty, tumbleweed strewn streets, but evidence would suggest that crime rates do indeed decline when CCW permits are available and gun restrictions are less prevalent.  The opposite has also been demonstrated time and time again.  Kennesaw, Georgia, implemented a policy of mandatory gun ownership in 1982 and they have one of the lowest crime rates in the country.  For what it’s worth, Family Circle Magazinealso named  Kennesaw as one of the 10 best towns for families.  Granted, this is a small town but it demonstrates that the mere presence of firearms alone is not an automatic trigger for gun violence.

Many might recoil at the suggestion but is it possible that our problem with gun violence arises not so much from a lack of laws but rather deeply rooted societal issues?  We are a warlike species, prone to aggression from the start.  Even our recreation is woven with threads of the same savagery that unravel the very fabric of our humanity when tugged upon by unstable individuals.  As with recent anti-smoking campaigns, a far more effective strategy might be to remove all references to gun violence from television and cinema although I think people would be clamoring to download every Clint Eastwood or Sylvester Stallone movie they could get their hands on.

I think that reasonable people everywhere support sensible precautions in the permit process.  Although controversial, mandatory sentences for gun crimes would also do much more to reduce future gun violence than any new law aimed at the elimination of firearms in general.

The answer to these problems is seldom more legislation and definitely not confiscation.  The criminals would indeed find access to guns and law abiding Americans would be left cowering at their mercy.  We need to be able to have an honest conversation about the epidemic of violence that’s sweeping our nation.  It’s ok to say “target” or “cross hairs” again – these were ridiculous distractions after the Gifford’s incident and besides, our new tone of civility seemed to dissipate faster than you could say furious, but that’s another topic altogether.




  • Leslie Clark Baldwin

    This is an excellent article and very well written. I commented to
    a co-worker that it was too bad there was not anyone in the theater with CCW
    permit. They were taken aback by my statement for some reason as they
    replied” That’s just stupid, even more people would be dead!” I’ll
    never understand why people think that. I remember when the massacre (23 fatalities)in Killeen
    TX happened and was even more pro CCW after seeing an interview with a survivor
    shortly after the shootings.

    (Per Wikipedia)  In 1991,a survivor of the massacre at Luby’s
     in Killeen, TX. , 32-year-old Dr. Suzanna Hupp said
    she reached for her revolver in her purse, only to remember she had left it in
    her car to comply with what was then Texas law. 
    The shooter killed 23 people including Hupp’s parents. He shot her 71yr
    old father when he tried to protect his family and her mother in the head while
    she held her dying husband.  Texas changed their CCW laws shortly after


  • Bob

    Before we let specific horrific events stampede us into action just to be seen doing something:

    UK has pretty restrictive gun laws what do they get for it:

    Countries by intentional homicide rate:

    Steven Pinker: The surprising decline in violence

    Michigan history:

    I don’t know enough in this latest case but given what has been published one certainly has to wonder about:

    • Troy Keith

      Bob, this was actually written last Monday but I’m at the mercy of the RE queue.. Interesting NYT piece – can’t help but wonder if gun sales going through the roof might have a small role to play in some of those national stats.  A family member sent me this link: which prompted some discussion and eventually the blog piece.  The evidence seems pretty clear from where I’m sitting but I know that people on both sides can point to some numbers that support their position.

      • Henry

        You’re right about the statistics. The favorie citation for the gun lobby is the strict gun laws and high murder rate in DC…you mentioned that. On the other hand DC is a five minute car ride from Virginia and their easy gun laws….you didn’t mention that part. Still, perhaps the easiest gun laws are in Vermont where you need no carry permit and where the murder rate is very low. Of course death by gun is highest in metro areas and Vermont’s largest city, Burlington, is less than 45,000 people and that may have something to do with the low gun death rate. The most likely state in which to be killed by a gun is Alaska which doesn’t have much in the way of gun restrictions.
        Personally, I have two hand guns. I hunted and trapped as a kid and got a .22 when I was fourteen. One of my handguns is a Russian model .44 I doubt that many of your readers here know what that is. No, it isn’t made in Russia.
        For myself, if I were so frightened of people in my community that I thought I needed to carry a gun with me when I went out I’d move someplace else.

    • Henry

      Your first reference shows an increase in violent crime in Britain. Your second reference, from Wicki, shows a homicide rate of 4.7/ 100k in the US and 1.23/ i00k in the UK. Between purse snatching and homicide I’ll take purse snatching.

  • GenePH

    Troy, I have enjoyed you last couple of columns. I especially liked your Occupy reference, which as been noticeably absent recently. What happened to that great movement?

    I will confess this is a test entry. It seems comment blogs only show up on my Safari browser after days of being moderated? My last 2, have totally disappeared into the either. They were in reply to your newer guy, “Blog Editor,” aka Henry Klugh, aka Henry, aka other names, which leads me to wonder if Jeanne there anymore? Is this guy the one who disposes of my comments to him?

    • Troy Keith

      Thank you Gene – it’s good to be back but the arguments all seem to be the same despite any changes in the news of the day. I’ve seen your recent replies come through and found one in there from yesterday that hasn’t been approved for publication yet. I could publish it but wouldn’t presume to moderate Henry’s blog.. Maybe he’s fishing?

      • Henry

        This is a reply to Gene and Troy. I would have no idea how to “dispose of comments to my blog.” If they were disposed of they might have been x ed by the webmaster. Calling me a “Blog Editor” smacks of more paranoia.
        I’m also bewildered by how Troy sees comments “that haven’t been approved for publication yet.”

        • Troy Keith

          Ah.. well you have to look with your “right” eye Henry.  They’re in the pending category – I went ahead and approved them (5 I think).

          • Henry

            Amazing; so you have the option of approving those comments you wish to appear and not approving those you don’t. I wish I’d known that; I’ll have to  try it.

    • Henry

      You have my name; it’s Henry Klugh. Sometimes to save time I type Henry. Your name is GenePH ????

  • GenePH

    I’m sitting here looking at my screen and see a story titled “Sucker Fishing”
    Posted on July 26, 2013 by Blog Editor. That is what it says. Under a picture of a guy it says “By Henry Klugh.” I assume the Blog Editor is Henry Klugh.

  • GenePH

    The “I have no idea of how to “dispose of comments to my blog” was the identical comment sent to me once by a certain lady from Grayling – now I am getting paranoid! 

  • Henry

    A certain lady from Grayling…sounds like the beginning of a great Limerick! When someting is posted “by the blog editor it means I sent the blog in an email and the webmaster posted it. Sorry, no skullduggery involved.

  • GenePH

    Back on point Troy, good article. I think the initial reports of the shooter wearing body armor were not correct. The supplier of the vest was interviewed, and he said it was a black vest with pockets for holding extra magazines, not armor. Also with the talk about outlawing big magazines, I heard gun people testify, they would rather have multiple smaller magazines to use than one large (ie 100) one. And this guys’ rifle did jam, probably due to the large magazine, and he lastly switched to hand gun(s). His first shots were a from a shotgun. One person carrying a gun may have been able to stop him. Did you hear of the Colorado Springs, CO church shooting a few years ago? A lady security guard stopped a potential large mass murder by shooting the shooter.   

    • Troy Keith

      Hi Gene, This was a week old by the time it was published – probably should have added some of the new details & Bloomberg’s suggestion that the police should go on strike.  I think the magazine stuff is just used to terrify people – you can empty a normal clip in about 2 seconds and pop in another in less time than that but it sounds a lot more menacing if you talk about 100+ rounds and show a pic of a scary looking “army gun”.

      Hadn’t heard about the church shooting before but you’d think that kind of stuff must happen quite a bit.  You’re likely to spend $50k in legal fees or go to jail for defending yourself these days but that’s better than the alternative I guess..

  • GenePH

    Back off topic. . .” It’s Susan Sarandon Day,” by Vanessa McCray received a comment from me. I think. Now, ‘Comments are closed.’ Sorry about that.

    • Record-Eagle Webmaster

       Sorry Gene. Comments were accidentally closed on the Film Festival Dailies blog, but they are open again.

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