Aurora and Gun Control – Are We Going to Demagogue Again?

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We have obviously experienced a second deranged mass murder here in the Denver metropolitan area.  Here are some media corrections from someone who lives nearby and lived in Aurora twice:

  1. Aurora is Colorado’s third biggest city forming part of the Denver metropolitan area that stretches from Boulder down to Colorado Springs;
  2. Aurora has a gang problem and a higher crime rate than nearby cities;
  3. As is true of most big cities it has some great areas and some crime ridden areas.  When we lived in Aurora we avoided this particular mall because of its reputation for crime.

I was ready for the media inundation, email bombardment, and social media blitz pitting gun control and gun rights advocates against each other.  If you live in Colorado, you are used to these tragedies becoming political football.  Whether it is gun control advocates touting Columbine or gun rights advocates touting the Colorado Springs church massacre ended by a concealed carry weapons permit holder, no tragedy is wasted as a political tool.

I was, however, shocked to get a message from the Rector of our church spreading misinformation.  He was trying to make a larger point about the world being a dangerous place and our need to turn to Christ in it.  But within the message was a prelude about how dangerous the world is because of the ease with which people can buy automatic weapons in the US.  Since I know the Rector to be a good man, I decided to do what I almost never do about divisive social issues.  I decided to write back.

“Peter,

I do see your larger pt., but …

I know you’re not a gun guy, but none of the murders you mention we’re done with automatic weapons w/c are heavily regulated and difficult to buy as they should be.  You can’t buy them in a gun store, it takes yrs, etc.  No licensed owner of auto weapons has ever been convicted of a crime in the US.

All of the weapons involved in all the murders you mention we’re either semi-auto or slower. Semi-auto is a std action in hunting, target shooting, and indeed personal protection. Both the shotgun and the “assault rifle” at Aurora are std hunting guns – the “assault rifle” I ironically used on a ranch last weekend in Wyoming killing varmints that were endangering a cattle herd.

I just mention it b/c to be credible in my view on either side of the issue around guns you have to be factually accurate. So many of the advocates from the NRA to the Brady Center color all their messages around these strategies w/ hyperbole and misinformation.

Ultimately I really think that is why we make so little policy progress in this area. A very large % of gun deaths are due to accidents, bad training, poor security of the gun in the home, etc. Thousands of lives could be saved if instead of focusing on politically divisive events like mass murders both sides would work together on accidents and suicide prevention.

My kids know what to do if they encounter a gun, ammunition, or someone handling either. It’s amazing to me that when I ask other kids or their parents they do the exact wrong thing. I bet if you polled the congregation more than half would do the wrong thing.

Can’t speak for Jesus, but my guess is he’d be more sorry we aren’t focused on solving those problems, building trust, then solve the more divisive ones.”

Are we going to act on issues upon which we all should agree?  Or are Mayor Bloomberg and his friends going to once again put forth a politically untenable position then fade away under a barrage of NRA advertising?

Why not make it a national goal to reduce accidental death from firearms to zero?  Why not do something effective?  Why not save lives?

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