In the aftermath of the Midnight Movie Massacre TTAG’s experienced its largest ever traffic surge. We have been at or near 100k page views for the last eight days. I’m aware that “trumpeting” this fact opens us up for the same charges of exploitation leveled at the mainstream media. I’m also proud of our coverage. We’ve provided dozens of articles on the factual, technical, strategic, psychological and political fallout from Holmes’ heinous act. We’ve rebutted inaccurate reporting and eviscerated gun grabbers’ attempts to justify additional restrictions on Americans’ gun rights. We’ve stuck to our URL-embedded mission statement: tell the truth about guns. But there’s [at least] one thing that remains to be said . . .
This will happen again. Ironically enough, this common sense message come to us via a gun control advocate: Washington Post commentator Eugene Robinson.
Clearly, there are two issues involved in these mass killings. The more difficult one has to do with mental health.
We know that young adulthood is a volatile time for young men in general. We know that symptoms of a number of serious mental disorders, such as paranoid schizophrenia, typically appear between the teens and the mid-30s.
We also know that parents and other loved ones are often powerless to intervene. There is no simple way to identify the handful of individuals quietly spinning out of control.
The simple issue is access to weapons and explosives. Among the three guns that Holmes brought into the movie theater was a Smith & Wesson M&P assault rifle with an oversized 100-round magazine. This weapon jammed, according to police, leaving Holmes with a shotgun and a pistol. Had the assault rifle worked properly, the toll surely would have been much higher.
An unstable person can walk into a gun shop and buy a weapon designed for deadly combat. No meaningful questions asked.
Define “meaningful.” Is it more info than that required by federal Form 4473, which asks all firearms purchasers if they’ve “ever been adjudicated mentally defective” or if they’ve “ever been committed to a mental institution”?
If you’re going down that road, you stand an excellent chance of excluding millions of Americans from gun ownership. Millions of Americans who’ve sought mental health treatment and tens of millions who take prescription drugs to address mental health issues. Productive, tax-paying, law-abiding Americans without a criminal record.
Some would say “it’s worth it.” To which gun rights advocates would say, “feel free to change the second amendment then.” But more than that, narrowing the mental health criteria for gun purchase and ownership would discourage people from seeking psychological help, increasing the number of potential firearms-related homicides.
So what’s the answer? There isn’t one. Well, not the one that Robison wants to hear:
This is crazy. Minimal gun control – such as prohibiting assault weapons – wouldn’t eliminate these massacres, but it would prevent some and mitigate others. Lives would be saved. Congress should pass an assault weapons ban this morning and the president should sign it tonight.
Dream on. Instead, we’ll argue endlessly.
The next James Holmes is out there, so is his instrument of murder, and we will do nothing to keep them apart.
The first part of that is true: the next James Holmes is out there. And so is his instrument of murder, be it a modern home black sporting defense rifle or a can of gasoline, some chains and a match. But we are doing things to keep them apart. Such as providing mental health services to disturbed individuals.
As Colorado University did for James Holmes. To no avail. Truth be told, there is only so much society can do to prevent violence and murder. There is only so much we can do to punish it. And there is only so much we can do to protect ourselves from it.
Yes, there is that . . .
Mr. Robinson is blind to the fact that most people hear about mass murder and imagine themselves in the midst of the horror. Sensibly enough, they don’t spend too much time wondering how the event could have been prevented. They focus their minds on a simple question: what would I have done?
And so they look for information that helps them “make sense” or “understand” the situation, to satisfy that natural, survival-oriented, hard-wired curiosity. And then they buy a gun. Not everyone, obviously, but the sales data is in and it’s clear: gun sales surge after spree killings.
Why wouldn’t it?
By the same token, why wouldn’t thousands of Americans turn to TTAG when gun violence hits the headlines? The anti-gun agenda-driven mainstream media fails to grasp the nettle. They fail to communicate a simple, unavoidable truth and the only possible response to that truth: bad shit happens. Deal with it.
To that end, as a large part of our remit, TTAG continues its mission. We will be here for the next atrocity and the next. We will not shy away from its nature nor sugar coat its implications. Meanwhile, thank you for reading.