This post was first published on Twitter: @Andy_Richter.
Earlier today I asked why assault weapons were needed, which generated a lot of talk, and I thank you all for partaking in the discussion.
So the consensus answer seems to be "because it's my right". OK, but it seems to me that that right isn't absolute; it comes with qualifications, and always has. Like, felons and the mentally ill can't own guns. And there is the allowance for qualifications and conditions to be imposed on the commercial sale of guns. And we, as a society, have accepted the notion that civilians shouldn't be allowed to own every bit of weaponry that our military has at their disposal (surface-to-air missiles, nuclear devices, etc.). So why is it so crazy to float the notion that the kind of assault weapon used in Aurora (not necessarily the gun itself, but the magazine) might not be the kind of thing that just anybody should be able to stroll into a gun shop and buy? Or pick up on the Internet? A 100 round drum magazine? That doesn't seem like a healthy thing to have available on the open market. And yes, I know it jammed; how many more would have died if it hadn't?
I don't want to take away everyone's guns. I grew up around guns, hunted, and enjoyed every minute of it. But I don't understand why people are digging in their heels over these assault weapons. They are allowing madmen to efficiently murder much larger numbers of innocent people than they would be able to with more conventional guns. Doesn't that matter? Doesn't that trump our desire to destroy a paper target with hundreds of rounds per minute?
I have shot these kinds of guns at a range, and it is exhilarating. But what is that exhilaration worth when compared to the possibility that restricted access to assault weapons (higher capacity magazines) might have saved just one life in Aurora? Or two lives? Or three?
Some people dodged my question by saying that the concept of "needing" these weapons is irrelevant because of their constitutional "right". As if the two aren't connected. I would offer that a "right" is just a "need" made manifest. Like, you need to be protected from being tried for the same crime twice, so you have the right to be protected from double jeopardy. Or, you need to have your privacy held sacred, so you have the right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure. The Bill of Rights is basically a list of things that we, as citizens of this new experimental nation, as Americans, NEEDED. Nothing covered by the Bill of Rights is unneeded. There's not a lot of room for frivolity in the document.
And in response to all the people who say they need assault weapons to protect themselves from the tyranny of the American government, I really don't know what to say, other than that it is really unhealthy to cling to such a paranoid fantasy. Because let's step it out and really look at what you're afraid of. We all acknowledge that our servicemen and women are heroes, and that they are putting their lives on the line to protect our freedoms. So at what point will these brave soldiers become the jackbooted thugs that you'll need to pump a few hundred rounds a minute into? When will the government turn its armed forces from being the neighbors and friends and family members that it is now into the mindless killing drones that you're so sure are just around history's corner?
I know I am a talk show sidekick. I can also be written off as just another Hollywood liberal. But I am also just a guy, horrified by what he hears on the news, who is trying to understand why such nightmarishly awful things happen to innocent people, and wonders how we can try to stop these things from happening again.
Now back to the poo poo jokes.