The resilience with which the rights organizations in Colorado have been fighting to block the constitutional restriction on access to guns is perhaps to blame for the recent shooting in Aurora. Following the 1999 Columbine tragedy, most legislators and voters from the Colorado state rose to pass laws that would restrict the sale and carrying of unconcealed weapons. This is a reaction paper on the shooting incident that took place in a multiplex in Denver on 19th July, 2012. The incident that turned fantasy into a real nightmare happened moments after midnight, when a crowd of fans were watching the film dubbed “the dark night rising.”
The Aurora Gun Issue
Armed with an “assault riffle, a short gun and a hand gun”, James Holmes went on a shooting spree killing 12 people and critically injuring 58 others (Frosch & Johnson). The incident prompted lots of questions from civilians fearing for their safety. This was even as constitutional experts maintained that Holmes was legally mandated to possession arms.
The question that civilians are now begging answers from the government is how to govern and restrict the growing incidences of misuse of arms. The Colorado state laws on restriction and carrying of weapons and arms are so much laxed. Except on orders of crime, mental disorders and conviction, the Colorado state allows civilians to carry loaded weapons either for self defense or protection of property (Frosch & Johnson). There is need for the government to put in place more stringent measures to ensure close monitoring of all armed people including assessing their mental health, restricting the number of ammunitions one can have at a time and ensuring all weapons are licensed. The ease of obtaining weapons permit in Denver is also to blame for the increased acquisition of weapons by civilians. Anyone can acquire a weapon permit by downloading and filling an application form online, and paying $ 152 in fees.
The ease of access to guns is bound to breed a national problem on civilians’ safety from those in possession of arms. It is now the turn of presidential candidates to address the electorate on how they intent to address the gun issue as it has now degenerated into a national safety concern. The recent Aurora shooting incident should not be taken just as yet another ordinary scenario as has been for Giffords and Trayvon cases, where the unfolding debate on the incidences could not be sustained for long (Frosch & Johnson). The war on guns has been ongoing since the 1980s and it seems it has reached some level of complacency and legislators are no longer interested in exploring lasting solution to the growing gun menace.
Following the Denver shooting incident, there is so far scrappy information about the attacker, making it difficult to push a strong case against gun possession by civilian. Furthermore, putting restriction on guns alone is not going to reduce crimes related to guns and concealed weapons. There is need to have a total ban on private guns in order to reduce crimes related to misuse of weapons. Police reports indicate that Mr.
Holmes had been on an ammunitions buying spree in a period of two months preceding the incident. Besides the gun he used to commit the heinous incident, he had three more guns in his car. During the two months period, Holmes had acquired the four guns online, together with 6,000 rounds of ammunitions and several magazines for the assault rifle (Frosch & Johnson). If there was anybody concerned, an alarm would have been raised over the high frequency with which Holmes was acquiring the ammunitions and guns. The government should take this as an eye opener and rise to the occasion to protect the innocent civilians from the raging gun violence.
Frosch, Dan and Johnson, Kirk. Gunman Kills 12 in Colorado, Reviving Gun Debate, 2012 web.
28th July, 2012< http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/21/us/shooting-at- colorado-theater-showing-batman-movie.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all>