A tragedy in Colorado Thursday night/Friday morning. Twelve people killed, and 58 or so wounded, most with gunshots as a crazy killer shot up a movie theater during the Dark Night Rises premiere. It's nuts, and I don't know what we do from here. There are any number of complaints about gun control, as well as counter arguments against it, in CO. Our governor in Colorado, who was shaken at a press conference Friday, refuses to call for more gun control laws.
I have to admit I'm somewhat torn here. I don't think that assault weapons are to blame for this. It's the actions of a crazy person. A loner, whose mother wasn't surprised. That alone is a little scary, and it makes me agree with my wife that perhaps we should be de-stigmatizing the idea of mental health counseling, and watching people that are extreme loners or maladjusted and getting them help early on. I'm not sold it would have prevented this, though maybe it would have delayed things. Hard to tell, and I'm not making a judgment until we know more about what happened.
However despite my thoughts that we should not be preventing the sale of guns to people, perhaps we should be examining sales a bit more. I'm a data guy, and I know there are patterns to be found. This guy bought 4 weapons in 60 days (or something like that). I know there are legitimate reasons to do that, but should more than 2 purchases (or even 2) trigger some response from somewhere?
He bought thousands of rounds of ammunition. That along with a large capacity magazine, and the timing, should probably have raised an alarm. I think there are legitimate reasons to need thousands of rounds. I might be stocking up from a sale. I might be buying because I'm taking 50 Scouts camping at a range and they'll be shooting. There might be other reasons, but in no way should I be offended if the local sheriff comes and asks me why. I ought to have a reason, and most of them should satisfy the officer, and we can both go on our ways. If I can't satisfy him, perhaps the sheriff has some right to confiscate things, but there needs to be a clear appeal process, not involving the law enforcement groups, that allows owners to recover their weapons in a timely manner.
But I might be crazy, I might act very strangely. I dislike the idea of being accused of a crime without committing one, but I also dislike the idea of letting violence go because no one wants to intrude on a right to privacy, which I'm not sure applies here.
Weapons are a fact of life. They're listed in our Constitution, and I do think we ought to be able to own, collect, use, and carry them. I don't like the idea of everyone carrying a gun everywhere, but I also think that's not necessarily a bad thing. I do think that the right to bear arms isn't unconditional, and there is a level of responsibility in owning them. If you're responsible, and not a criminal, then any questions about unusual purchases shouldn't be a problem to answer. If you're a criminal, perhaps a small check or red flag might alert police to potential problems.
There's no perfect solution here, and I don't think less guns prevent problems like this, but perhaps a little more intelligence applied to the data can help.