Pitchroom

After Arizona and Aurora, will more guns make us safer?

This post was originally published on July 24, 2012.

We’ve resurfaced this piece following the news of a horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut this morning.

NBC News reports 26 have been killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including 20 children. Watch live as the events unfold.

In July 20 in Aurora, Colorado, 24-year-old James E. Holmes entered a sold-out midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” armed with an extensive cache of weapons and ammunition.

Donning body armor and a gas mask, Holmes carried a semiautomatic assault rifle, at least one .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol and a 12-gauge shotgun into the theater.

Weapons confiscated by police on display prior to a news conference in City Hall addressing the proliferation of illegal guns in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Mark Stehle

The roomful of moviegoers eagerly awaiting the highly-anticipated Batman sequel quickly degenerated into a nightmarish scene, as Holmes opened fire and began shooting indiscriminately, killing a dozen and wounding 58 others, many of whom remain in critical condition.

As the nation begins to grapple with this seemingly senseless act of violence, both President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have avoided calls for new gun laws.

A long-time proponent of more stringent firearm regulations, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg admonished both the President and Governor Romney on the John Gambling show. “Soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it,” he said. “There are so many murders with guns every day; it’s just got to stop.”

In a statement, Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign echoed Bloomberg’s call. “This tragedy is another grim reminder that guns are the enablers of mass killers and that our nation pays an unacceptable price for our failure to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” he said. “We are outraged.”

Meanwhile, pro-gun activists contend that lessening impediments to legally carrying concealed weaponry may be the answer. Luke O’Dell of the Colorado-based group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners told the New York Times that, “Potentially, if there had been a law-abiding citizen who had been able to carry in the theater, it’s possible the death toll would have been less.”

Following the 2011 Arizona shooting – when shooter Jared Loughner killed six and left former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 13 others wounded – Need to Know sat down for a second time with proponents of the “Open Carry” movement, who contend that more guns on America’s streets will make us safer.

“It’s like a fire extinguisher. Until you have a fire, you don’t need it. But you have it,” said one open carry advocate in our report.

Watch Guns Battle: The Fight Over Gun Control Laws on PBS. See more from Need To Know.

Do you agree? Can fewer rules restricting concealed weapons improve our safety? Or should greater regulations be placed on obtaining guns in the first place?

Let us know your thoughts and questions by reaching out on Facebook, Twitter, or share your opinion in the comment section below.

 

Comments

  • Retro144

    It seems obvious to me that since all these shootings that keep occurring happen in areas where guns guns are prohibited… 

  • the

    Guns will always get into the hands of criminals. The more guns law abiding citizens have, and the more concealed carry that is allowed, the safer everyone is

  • the

    Guns will always get into the hands of criminals. The more guns law abiding citizens have, and the more concealed carry that is allowed, the safer everyone is

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Carrington/100000981816881 Sandy Carrington

    One out of two people own guns in Switzeland and they have the lowest crime rate in the world….

  • Anonymous

    i dont see how it can make us safer or less so
    theres no way to guard against the actions of a lone shooter, like theres no way to guard against any crazy person whether he wants to shoot you or eat your face. the only option in many cases is the ability to curtail the actions and limit the damage once the attack starts

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryan.murphy.12 Bryan Murphy

    if there HAD been more guns in that theater, someone could have dropped that nutcase before he did so much damage.

  • Hphamti

    A movie theater is dark and crowded. Do you think most concealed carry people are prepared mentally and physically to handle a chaotic situation? What happens if a the killer grabs a hostage? What if the conceal carry people accidentally shoot innocent people or get confused if they saw other concealed carry? 

    I’m all for freedom to have guns and conceal carry, but I hope people have extensive training and a mental background checks beforehand.  Wasn’t it like 40% of guns don’t require background check? A paranoid schizo could walk into a shop and buy a gun with the current system. With great power comes great responsibility. Gun owners should be responsible for having the power to save as well as the power to kill. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001923282183 Dawn Wiley

    This is not Switzerland, and we have a problem.  Why is is fine for US troops to encourage other nations with a zealot weapons problem to turn in guns, but it’s heresy to call for it here? Why?  Most concealed carry permits are NOT required to defend our country for military purposes as in Switzerland, they are fearful people hiding behind a powerful killing machine; is that what we want roaming the land?  Fewer guns, fewer deaths by guns.  Anything else is simple escalation of the problem. A gun is not a fire extinguisher, you can put the lid on a pot and the fire goes out.  More guns, more mafia, more armies, more war, more death, less peace, less health in the community, more fear and stagnation in our nation.

  • Harvey S. Cohen

    I agree that “Potentially, if there had been a law-abiding citizen who had been able to carry in the theater, it’s possible the death toll would have been less.” But what if there had been two, or four, or twenty? How do they each distinguish between good guys and bad guys when everyone is shooting? The police wear uniforms partly so that they won’t shoot each other.

  • Harvey S. Cohen

    Ah, the old Switzerland canard! The overwhelming majority of those gun owners do not have any ammunition in their possession. Look it up.

  • David

    The ability for anyone to go to a gun show table and purchase any weapon without a background check, a waiting period, and a gun safety course is insane.  How about a hefty tax on guns to help pay for qualified gun specialists to review folks who wish to purchase a gun.  Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora.  We have a gun glut and it doesn’t make me feel any safer to know that there are folks in my town who may carry a concealed or an openly displayed gun. 

    We are a very fearful country; gun carriers, wannabes, and non-guns alike.  Who will step forward to bring us to our senses?  How about asking our candidates what their plan for gun controls is as a checklist item as we think about our stop at the polls in November?  What do you think?  Do we have a national moral problem that implicates all of us?

  • Wizout489

    All I know is people Who plan on hurting others Will always be able to get their hands on guns. So let’s “Not” make it harder or near impossible for good law abiding citizens to obtain guns, Or make more gun free zones Because I agree if a law abiding Citizen was there with their concealed carry gun and permanent of course That the death toll And injuries could and probably would have been decreased dramatically.

  • Wizout489

    Plus gun free zones might as well be labeled as massacre zones because its basically saying hey if you’re going to snap and kill some people come here less chance of retaliation.

  • Bowlingrus69

    where to start… Well i liked everyone’s comments in support of freedom for gun owners and as for the topic. Guns are tools, just like any tool there are good and bad ways of using them, and like with anything the user determines its use. So hence there are more good law abiding citizens then criminals so less likely for this sort of thing to happen as long as there are no gun free zones.

  • Bowlingrus69

     Personally i feel that our government is out of line with any gun laws restricting american’s the right to own, buy, or process any firearm.(Now background checks for violent offenders is a must.) One good way to stop this non-sense is for every law that takes our rights away from us also includes the police and military as well. How safe would you feel then???? I thought so, which why there would be no laws restricting us.

  • Bowlingrus69

    i agree totally. it calls out open season. very dangerous these no gun zones!!!!

  • LP

     I own a hunting rifle, and do not oppose gun ownership (though basic safety training prior to the ownership of a gun might be nice–like exists for hunting licenses)  But I must admit, I have a difficult time understanding why people believe guns makes the world a safer more peaceful place.  I understand it might make a person feel more empowered, but that is not the same thing.  If you believe that guns do not kill people-people do– then don’t you also need to say that that guns to not protect people–people do?  Why is there no discussion of finding ways to keep guns away from people with a certain mental diseases, or or with certain criminal records?  Is the only solution really to hand a gun to every man woman and child in the neighborhood?

  • AzRedShoe

    Take guns away from American citizens; all you need is to look down south. Mexico doesn’t allow citizen to have hand guns and the only people to have them are thugs and police, and you can’t tell them part sometimes. Mexico is also the number one country worldwide for be-headings. Is this what we want for America?

  • Bowlingrus69

    Mexico is a prime example of what it would be like here if guns were outlawed. The cartel rules in mexico and citizens are in danger everyday. Murders go unpunished and   their government wont and sometimes cant do anything about it. To take guns away from Americans would be like handing the criminals the keys to the country!!!

  • Bowlingrus69

    LP, I have a question for you. Do you think we as a country would be #1 if we did away with all weapons and just relied on talking to our enemies to stop them from breaching our borders??????? If so then you could kiss Democracy goodbye. I mean this is a right given to us by our fore-fathers and a lot of people would like to through that right away. That right is to protect us from invaders, intruders, and even our own government  If they ever try to break our constitution or just take our rights away from us. Our country was built and works on principle of guns, as does the world…

  • Bowlingrus69

    As for mental disorders what determines mentally handy caped. With research all ways looking to explain we now have A.D.D. and Bi-polar which all i keep seeing is used for excuses and stamped on everyone so drug companies can sell more drugs. And for the topic of knowledge or gun training why are we not teaching kids in school more about guns and gun safety. I had a hunters education class will I was in school that talk mostly about rifle and shotgun safety along with surroundings or area safety. Schools are a good inexpensive way to instruct kids or young adults gun safety since most will come into contact with guns at some point in there lives.     

  • Mike

    There are some issues republicans have looked at, and while they largely disapprove, the likelihood that they will be able to change the course of the country – legislatively is something they’ve given up on and have agreed to disagree, to make what difference they can, where they can, but, for the most part, to just move on, not make it a primary or central issue.

    I think, by comparison, that’s where democrats are now on “gun rights” vs “gun control”.

    I’m not sure that more guns makes us safer.  It’s not the gun you have, it’s how you use it, it’s that you use it when you need to in the most effective way, that you are properly trained and that you don’t have the kind of stupid attacks that end up in needless tragedy as has been the case in some instances of late.

    Just having a gun (or a right to one) is not enough.  

    I think it’s too easy to point to the extremes as either side often does in order to support their respective calls for action.I think we need more common sense, more reality and less heat.We tend not to get that when an Aurora or a Columbine, a Ted Kaczynski, a 9/11 happens.  Common sense, along with the truth, tend to be early casualties.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jackd2 Jack Davis

    Libertarian follies continue. The answer to the question is an easy No. John Lott was wrong, more guns=more crime . Easy access to guns is like easy access to anything else. Just as alcohol use declined during Prohibition, gun violence has escalated as our gun laws have become weaker.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jackd2 Jack Davis

    No laws at all? Should I be allowed to purchase and carry a rocket launcher at Wal-Mart? (Not a  straw man, Scalia recently suggested this would be legal) http://www.politicususa.com/scalia-rocket-launchers-protected-amendment.html.

  • Okdog1

    Absolutely!!! Why should the criminals be the only ones carrying guns? The only ones deterred by gun laws are the law-abiding.

  • mbee1

    These is a problem PBS and all the liberals refuse to touch.  All these shooting were caused by mentally ill persons..  Mentally ill persons known to both the medical community and the police.  Both ignored these mentally ill people because all the liberals have passed  bunch of laws giving the menatlly ill civil rights so they can do their thing until they kill you.  Perhaps the proper approach would be to reform the laws on mentally ill people requiring mandatory medical and court intervention long before they kill you.  Is that to much to ask?

  • betty4

    We could start by outlawing automatic weapons and ammunition clips that hold huge numbers bullets – these are weapons of war, clearly intended to kill/injure a maximum number of people.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know if more guns will make us safer, but no guns will not make us safer, either, as many would have us believe.  I also think it was the ULTIMATE of insults for – of all people – Eric Holder to show up in Aurora after that shooting spree!  OMG!  I can’t think of any worse choice for someone to ‘represent’ the president!  I had to wonder how that made the parents of that slain border patrol agent feel? 

    Whether you like guns or not, the gun trade will be there – either in front of our eyes, or behind the scenes – but it will still be there.  So why would we want to prevent the ‘regular’ guy from being able to defend himself?  And why would we want to GIVE combat weapons to drug lords in Mexico so that they can kill our own federal border agents? 

  • Anonymous

    True.  I like the ‘guns are tools.’  It made me think, yeah!  And just like cars are tools and some people abuse their right to drive them, does that mean we should outlaw all cars?  Cars can be weapons, too, but no one would ever consider taking EVERYONE’S right to drive away just because some people use their cars as weapons.  It is the people who utilize the tool.  It is people who abuse their rights and their tools. 

    (Another thought, if we already have no problem saying that felons cannot purchase/possess guns, and some of us are proposing that all people cannot purchase/possess guns, then aren’t we/they putting all citizens, even law-abiding citizens, in the same place as felons?  Hmmmm, and the only ones to have guns would be police and military?  Hmmmm.  Doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.  It’s everything against what our country was founded on.)

  • Anonymous

    With the technology of today, it sure seems to me that even people at gun shows should have the ability to check the databases for felons.  The people who seem to be filtering through all this crap are the ‘mentally’ challenged people.  Others who have a vendetta will find a way to get a gun anyway, and even some of the mental problems out there will too, so I’m really not sure how to fix this one…unless maybe everybody just started carrying guns, then we would all be on a more level playing ground.

    It’s the wild west all over again. 

  • Anonymous

    And MOST gun owners aren’t going around killing anyone, either, like they are in the ‘other nations’ you refer to who had to turn in their guns.  You are in la-la land if you think it is as simple as ‘fewer guns, fewer deaths by guns.’  The majority of the guns owned in this country were not used in these attacks against our citizens.  Only a very few guns, and only by one or two people.  Amazing how just a person or two can make such a horrible impact on his/her fellow man, isn’t it?  The gun is the weapon of choice for murder sometimes, but it is not the only weapon that is and can be used.  If you limit a determined person’s ability to have a gun, they will find another way to complete their mission.  Silly girl.  Silly, silly girl.

  • Anonymous

    And MOST gun owners aren’t going around killing anyone, either, like they are in the ‘other nations’ you refer to who had to turn in their guns.  You are in la-la land if you think it is as simple as ‘fewer guns, fewer deaths by guns.’  The majority of the guns owned in this country were not used in these attacks against our citizens.  Only a very few guns, and only by one or two people.  Amazing how just a person or two can make such a horrible impact on his/her fellow man, isn’t it?  The gun is the weapon of choice for murder sometimes, but it is not the only weapon that is and can be used.  If you limit a determined person’s ability to have a gun, they will find another way to complete their mission.  Silly girl.  Silly, silly girl.

  • Anonymous

    And MOST gun owners aren’t going around killing anyone, either, like they are in the ‘other nations’ you refer to who had to turn in their guns.  You are in la-la land if you think it is as simple as ‘fewer guns, fewer deaths by guns.’  The majority of the guns owned in this country were not used in these attacks against our citizens.  Only a very few guns, and only by one or two people.  Amazing how just a person or two can make such a horrible impact on his/her fellow man, isn’t it?  The gun is the weapon of choice for murder sometimes, but it is not the only weapon that is and can be used.  If you limit a determined person’s ability to have a gun, they will find another way to complete their mission.  Silly girl.  Silly, silly girl.

  • Chasey_1978

    Or not allow mentally ill people to buy guns. This guy bought all his guns legally. I think really enforcing the gun control laws are the problem here.

  • Chasey_1978

    Agree with LP. As I stated to another, this guy bought his guns legally. Some gun shops/shows/outlets dont abide by all the rules. In addition not all mentally ill people are kept from buying guns. I think if you have an ongoing history of certain mental illness or crime you should not be allowed to own a gun, sorry.

  • Chasey_1978

    In addition, people forget that the guy gassed the movie theater, and it was dark. So yeah start shooting people. How silly. Sometimes I wonder if people have any common sense. Did we forget the gabby giffords incident? There were armed citizens trying to help, and one guy said he almost shot the wrong person. One on one, yes its a good thing to have a gun, but in a crowded area with a half dozen people whipping out their guns? Maybe not such a good idea.

  • Beel

    Said opinion not in evidence.

  • Daniel

    If carrying a gun is like having a fire extinguisher, then I can only assume that the fire extinguisher is loaded with gasoline. You know what’s a better way to prevent fire? Having less of them.

    Suppose someone in that theater had a “self-defense” weapon. Would it make sense for him to open fire in a crowded chaotic theater? Probably not. In fact, we don’t even have to use our imagination. This is exactly what happend when Gabrielle Giffords was shot: there were people at the scene with guns, but none of them helped. Same with Colombine: the school had an armed guard, not just an amateur, but an actual professional. He didn’t fire, because there were kids running around all over the place.

    This notion that guns can stop crazed shooters is a fantasy that feels really good to gun owners (I have the power to save the day!), but which has not borne out. Sadly, this myth has infected even large swaths of non-gun touting Americans. It is time to put such childish movie-based fantasies aside, and confront reality with our eyes wide open.

  • yeehaw

    “…like a fire extinguisher…”. Yeah. But a fire extinguisher won’t kill you.

  • yeayeayeaaa

    ? the solution is not to take the guns away, then youll have only criminals who get their guns illegally and with noone to protect themselves criminals could do whatever they please, your right people do protect people, but u cant fight a gun with your bare hands

  • idiotsss

    well if they are obtaining there guns “legally” and yet the gun shops arent following all the rules, then technically wouldnt they be obtaining their guns illegally? and obviously people that arent fit to do everything by themselves or have any type of criminal record shouldnt be allowed to have a gun, thats obvious, try saying somethings that other people dont already realize

  • GunsforsomenotforALL

    all in all these are 2 instances where it would have been difficult for even a police officer to take the gunman down, much less a man with a gun, but what about in newton, if anyone had a gun and had seen this creepy guy walking around they could have kept him in their sights and by the time he had pulled one gun out they could have had shot him and the whole thing couldve been avoided, nobody thinks of that, ntm after the amount of school shooting this country has had, wouldnt they think to put at least 1 officer in everyschool, is it too much to ask this president to keep our children safe,, no all he cares about is keeping the criminals fed

  • bob

    Guns can protect some of 100 people when an insane f walks into a theater with several weapons heart set on killing people, thanku, let’s arm and train our citizens!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.canavan.904 Tom Canavan

    the only way to fix this problem is with biometric triggers so that only the registered gun owner can use them and if it’s stolen becomes useless and if owner refuses to use biometric trigger guards then they are convicted of same crime as thief/murderer that stole gun.

  • Guns

    you wouldn’t need a gun if gun shows wasnt selling them to bad people, criminals are getting guns from some where, if the stole them, who did they steal them from? Good people that own them, they get them from gun shops as long as the money is there, so called good people sell crooks guns.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Justin.Vieira19 Justin Vieira

    In response, Columbine also had armed guards on camous on April 20th 1999,They arrived to late to make any difference in the shooting.

  • skizma

    really? what demented logic. Absolutely wrong and unfounded. This is called rationalization. Not truth.

  • skizma

    good point LP. Giving out more guns to solve the problem is just backward logic. It would mean that for all drug related problems, give more drugs. For more violence related problems be more violent. That thinking ITSELF IS the problem. Maybe it’s our public school system failing to instill the proper values and thinking skills. It has to start somewhere. What is mind boggling is that fixing this will be soooooo difficult since folks have been allowed to do as they please. Everyone thinks freedom means do whatever you want. We have issues here, that’s apparent.

  • skizma

    Chasey sooo true. Everyone having a gun, pulling it out and then shooting in the dark would make it just horrendous. Having a gun is not a ‘good’ thing. why? It’s a violent mechanism. Period. It only immediately increases tension and aggression. Useless.

  • Matt K

    All US citizens have the right to bear any weapon they want. This right is protected by the 2nd Admendment. Our right to have rpg’s,rockets,F-16′s and bombs has been taken away. How are we to protect ourselves from the tyranny of the government if we don’t have the same weapons that the tyranic goverment has? We all have the right to have these badass weapons.

  • Matt K

    Where’s my F-16,where’s my fully automatic 50caliber to protect myself? I can’t do it with this little AK-47!

  • Matt K

    I can’t protect myself-boohoohoo!

  • Crystal

    Which is more valuable, our God given children or our man given bill of right to bear arms-GUNS? Think, just think about this issue as honestly and sincerely as you can. Guns are made to KILL. God said,” You shall not kill”. If it is true that ” In God we trust”, should we not obey God rather than man on this madness?

  • Russell Linton

    “It’s like a fire extinguisher” – Ummm, why isn’t he carrying one of those? Chances are probably greater he sees a fire than gets shot at.

  • Peter Shearon

    I see your argument, and what you are saying is very persuasive and the best counterargument that I have seen so far, but I cannot agree because of the countless cases that a fire arm did save live(s) in crime. Just showing killers you can defend yourself can prevent murder. See: http://www.fox21news.com/news/story.aspx?id=994915#.UtiSptJDv7F

  • Peter Shearon

    A fire extinguisher like a gun can be used to defend a person, from fire and another fire arm.
    And yes, fire extinguishers can be used to kill people, a couple blows to the head–out cold.