I moved to Colorado about ten months ago.And though I am a native Texan, Colorado is my adoptive state. In my 31 years, 18 were in Texas and 12 were in Illinois, so that should tell you something. I love this state and the people in it. Just as the people of Texas are my people, the people of Colorado are my adoptive people. Recently, my Colorado people have suffered through forest fires. And now they’ve suffered through an horrific tragedy. My upbringing has been between one of the most conservative states in the union and one of the most liberal, as far as gun laws go. So I have a lot of friends on both sides of the gun issue that want to share their thoughts. And you know what? You can shut up about gun control for a day or two.
[Edit: July 26]An introduction to what you’re about to read
I wrote this article around midnight last Saturday. I live 20 or 30 minutes from Aurora. I know the theater. What happened wasn’t a piece of news, it was an event where live. By midnight, Saturday, my friends in Illinois and Texas had already decided the fate of gun control for this country. I was fed up.
I am a web developer by trade. My blog averages 30 or 40 hits a week and suddenly, I was getting hundreds of views on this article. Business Insider picked it up and wanted to interview me. Because I am weary of what the media will write, I wrote the follow up article “I’m a hypocrite…” where I explained the reason I own an AK-74 was for fun and proposed that mandatory training should be the only regulation we need. Fox News emailed me this morning and posted my blog post on their site (with an incorrect title). And now I’m averaging 150 hits a minute.
What I wrote was a reaction to both the arguments for gun control and for concealed weapons. Both arguments have flaws and I wanted to rationalize the issues with both. If you’re looking for my position, it’s the one where I have a 9mm Sig on my hip and an AK-74 in my hands.
And yes, I know an AK isn’t an assault rifle. I’m not an expert.
My wife served six years in the Air Force, including time in wartime Bosnia. I applied to three different branches; I am unable to serve due to a medical condition. Saying that I don’t love the country, 2nd amendment, or freedom isn’t nice and it isn’t true. Now… please put yourself in the context of a Saturday night in a suburb of Denver and keep reading.
[end of edit]
You can shutup about gun regulations and gun bans
I own an assault rifle, two handguns, and a shotgun. And of course, I purchased them all legally. I have a college degree and I don’t have any criminal history beyond speeding tickets. If you’re looking at a background check, I’m no different than James Eagan Holmes. Compare resumes and you’ll pick him; he had a better GPA than I did and actually pursued a higher education than I have.
The difference between James Holmes and me is that one of us walked into a theater and murdered people. One of us wanted to make our home into a giant bomb to kill our neighbors. One of us values human life. There’s no law on the planet that will change how a man values the life of another. Outlaw online sales, assault rifles, guns, liquids over 3 ounces, and he still would find a way to murder.
You can shutup about how concealed carry fixes everything
Colorado isn’t much different from Texas as far as gun laws are concerned. In fact, Texas is the only state in the union where open carry is illegal ( the ability to carry a gun in public for all to see). Concealed carry is legal and fairly easy to obtain in the state of Colorado. In fact, my wife and I went through the class. Our course was taught by a police officer and firearms instructor; he was rarely qualified to educated us on conceal carry rules and the actual gun laws in Colorado.
So here’s a few things you should know:
- It is perfectly legal to conceal a firearm in a movie theater in Colorado if you have a license
- Colorado concealed-carry classes aren’t required to be taught by law enforcement
- Colorado concealed-carry classes don’t require that you demonstrate proficiency with a fire arm
- Colorado concealed-carry classes don’t require that you even shoot a firearm
You can shutup about how things would have been different if someone had a gun
I’ve fired and used guns my whole life. I don’t claim to be an expert or even overly proficient. And though I have shot a few thousand rounds in my life, I don’t think that would matter for me or others in this situation. So here’s what you soon-to-be heroes with conceal weapons permits should know:
- You’re not Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer, or Bruce Wayne. Situational awareness takes training that you don’t get as a civilian. You won’t recognize a threat until it’s too late.
- Unless you’ve trained with the exact weapons system you’re carrying,
you’llyou could miss. It takes hundreds of hours with a firearm to really be proficient. Do you know what you’d do if it jams? Can you reload before the last round leaves your chamber? How many rounds in your magazine? Have you even practiced drawing your weapon if it’s concealed? Now think about doing this in a firefight.
- Proficiency deteriorates without practice. When was the last time you fired your gun? Police and military practice regularly for their jobs. You do it irregularly for fun.
- A thousand hours on the range aren’t the same as a hundred seconds in a real shootout. Can you recognize the threat, obtain a site picture, and neutralize the target with a gun pointed at you? Police and military don’t just learn how to do this once, they actually train in these situations.
- There’s a solid chance you won’t even pull the trigger. There is huge psychological trauma associated with taking a life. Estimates are that between 1/3rd and 1/4th of guns on the battlefield in WWII were never shot. There are even police officers and soldiers who have been killed because they didn’t have what it took to kill.
- Even if you train with your gun, you do it until you get it right. Police and military do it until they don’t get it wrong. You’re just not ready like they are to use your gun. Your reaction may not be the same as someone who’s trained for this.
I really don’t care what you think could have been different
Real people died. This isn’t the time to run your mouth about politics and gun control. And while my friends are alive and well, some of their friends and family aren’t so lucky. This is real to me.
So yeah…I’m betting that 100% of people getting shot would like to have a way to protect themselves. Not one person there was thinking, “I wish it were harder to get an assault rifle…maybe we should repeal the 2nd amendment.” They were running for their lives and praying for deliverance. Every person there wanted a way to end the violence. This is about surviving a shootout, not repealing guns.
I don’t give two craps what you think you would have done if you were there. You weren’t. Hundreds of others were. They could have been armed, and maybe some were. Just a gun isn’t enough. Even if you’re police or military, there’s a difference between training for this and experiencing it. Unless you’ve experienced a fire-fight, shut up.
Just shutup about Colorado
I live in the Denver area, and not very far from Aurora. On July 20th I woke up with the news and was scared for the lives of my church family. I’m not affected nearly in the same way these victims are. But I may meet these victims and their families. My wife may go to work with people who were there. Families of victims may visit my church. This isn’t something that happened on the news. This is something that happened where I live.
I could have been there. I could have had a gun. I could have done something.
But I wasn’t there.I wouldn’t have had a gun (because I don’t have my license yet), and I don’t have a clue what I would have done.
So all I can do is shutup and pray. So should you.
[July 24, 2012: UPDATE: I'm a hypocrite. Rob Wile from Business Insider had a 45-minute interview with me on the subject of gun control]
[July 24, 2012: UPDATE: here's a follow up blog post I wrote which summarizes my interview with Rob: ]
[July 25, 2012: UPDATE: Here's the article on Business Insider]
[July 26, 2012: UPDATE: Fox news asks permission to repost part of the blog, and subsequently the world hates me. ]
[July 25, 2012: UPDATE: On account of the factual issues and general thoughts of what's been written, I've written a small summary of corrections for you to review]