The Aurora Shooting Wasn’t “Shocking.” It Was Inevitable, Given Our Lax Gun Laws

How to Make Government Work
July 20 2012 5:26 PM

The Aurora Shooting Wasn’t “Shocking”—It Was Inevitable, Given Our Lax Gun Laws

A man pauses to pray for victims of the Colorado shooting during a speech by Mitt Romney in Bow, N.H., on July 20.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The words of sympathy from our nation's leaders in response to the horrific events in Colorado last night are welcome—and we all share the sentiments. But I disagree with one word that both president Obama and former Gov. Romney used to describe the tragedy—the word shocking. The one thing this horror is not is shocking. After the litany of mass shootings we have had over the past years, we should by now be braced for this tragedy, not shocked by it.

No one should be shocked, just as we should not have been shocked by the killing of seven at Oikos University in April; or the school shooting in Chadron, Ohio, in February; or the Arizona shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others—killing six—in 2011; or the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007; or the Columbine shooting more than 13 years ago. It depends on which study you choose, but there are about 10,000 gun murders in the United States every year. According to USA Today, there are on average 20 mass shootings per year. And according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, every day in America, guns claim 84 lives and wound nearly 200.


Yet somehow, gun control in this country has become the third rail of politics. Perhaps that is partly due to the fact that the public seems to care less and less. According to Gallup, in 1990 almost 80 percent of Americans said that laws covering the sales of firearms should be made more strict. By 2010, that number was only 44 percent. In fact, starting in 2009, the majority of respondents said gun laws should either remain the same or be made less strict.

And I am tired of hearing that the Second Amendment as a bar to useful measures—it isn't. There is no constitutional right to buy submachine guns or silencers or uniquely hazardous bullets without background checks—or at all. 

So let's act, not just wring our hands. It is time to ban all military-style semi-automatic assault weapons, ban assault clips holding more than 10 rounds, and require that new guns have micro-stamping technology so bullets left at crime scenes can be traced. These are simple, moderate steps.

This tragedy is not shocking—it is a reminder. A stark reminder of our inability to do what so many other nations have done: Put in place meaningful gun control.

Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of the state of New York, hosts Viewpoint on Current TV. Follow @eliotspitzer on Twitter.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.