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Colorado Shooting Suspect’s Legal Arsenal: Where Is the Outrage?

BU prof explains politicians’ aversion to gun control debate

According to police in Aurora, Colorado, James T. Holmes used three types of weapons last Friday to fire on unsuspecting theatergoers at a mall premiere of the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 people and wounding 59 others. The weapons he reportedly used were not only legal, they are among the most popular in America’s thriving firearms market, according to a report in yesterday’s New York Times. The United States is the most heavily armed population in the world, with a 2007 small arms survey estimating that the nation numbers 90 guns per 100 people. That number is likely to have climbed; the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently reported a 15 percent jump in background checks for gun buyers from 2010 to 2011.

The tools of the rampage—a semiautomatic version of the M-16 rifle used by the military known as an AR-15, a pump-action 12-gauge shotgun, and at least one .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol—were just part of the 24-year-old suspect’s vast arsenal, along with explosives, all of which were reportedly obtained legally at gun stores or over the Internet. (The expiration of a federal assault weapons ban in 2004 has made it easier to purchase semiautomatics like the AR-15.) But in the wake of the tragedy, both President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney have yet to address the issue of gun control, and the only prominent politician calling for an urgent review of gun control measures was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In the wake of a string of deadly mass shootings in the United States over the last 15 years, why is there widespread reluctance to address an issue that is staring Americans in the face? To shed light on the state of gun control politics in the United States, BU Today put this and other questions to Graham Wilson, College of Arts & Sciences professor and chair of the political science department. Author of nine books, Wilson’s research focuses primarily on interest groups and their relationship with government and policymaking.

BU Today: President Obama was in Aurora, Colorado, early this week fulfilling his duty as what the Washington Post calls “healer-in-chief.” But can he avoid an urgent discussion of increasing gun controls, at the very least restoring some kind of ban on automatic assault weapons?

Wilson: I have become totally cynical about politicians’ response to the recurring massacres. They say they are sorry for the victims and their families, deplore the event, and do nothing to prevent a recurrence. Our national policy is to make incredibly powerful guns available to the mentally disturbed so we have to accept terrible massacres like this on a recurring basis as the inevitable consequence of the choices our elected politicians have made.

What is at stake for politicians who speak out in favor of increased gun controls?

Any politician with the guts to suggest even the mildest restriction on even the most lethal of guns will incur the enduring enmity of the gun lobby—notably the NRA [National Rifle Association].

How do you think the Aurora tragedy will affect politics in Colorado, a major battleground state?

Minimally. All the politicians will say how terrible this is, how sorry they are for victims and families and do nothing to prevent high-powered semiautomatic weapons from being made freely available to deeply disturbed people. And of course the Roberts Court has re-interpreted the Second Amendment to make it harder for any politician with the bravery to act to do so.

Why do you think Michael Bloomberg is the only politician who immediately demanded action on gun control in the wake of the Aurora shootings?

Because he is mayor of New York City, where the power of the NRA is least.

Who do you believe is responsible for the prevailing all-or-nothing reasoning for dismissing gun control, the sense that if the restrictions aren’t foolproof they shouldn’t exist at all?

The NRA has made it its policy that everyone should have access to all sorts of firearms, including the most lethal. Politicians of both parties bow down to and worship the NRA. Note how ten or more years ago, the massacres repeatedly prompted some calls for gun control. As your question suggests, nowadays we just accept that “stuff happens” and a few dozen people get shot.

Gallup polls over the last two decades have shown that fewer than half of Americans polled are in favor of stricter laws governing the sales of firearms and ammunition, with only slight blips in the wake of the Columbine and Virginia Tech massacres. To what do you attribute support for weapons that appear to have no purpose beyond firing the most lethal shots in the shortest time?

I don’t think most people have any sense of how frightening it would be if well-intentioned, minimally trained citizens started shooting off guns like the AK-47, even in self-defense. I think it is partly a matter of partisan politics; being a Republican nowadays means resisting any gun control. But I think it is also part of the wider decline in trust in government. As we don’t trust government to protect us, we better get an Uzi.

Americans live with regulations governing all aspects of our lives, and yet it seems to be only gun control that sets off slippery slope arguments about a totalitarian state. What role does the gun lobby play in promoting this argument?

Americans used to support gun control; there is nothing historically or culturally determined about the current situation.

How did the Second Amendment become a blanket justification for opposition of all gun controls?

For most of our history, the Second Amendment was interpreted as not providing for an individual right to own guns. The Roberts Court, as part of its judicial activism, reversed 75 years of clear precedent in deciding that the Second Amendment did provide an individual right to guns. But even the Roberts Court would agree that, like all constitutional rights, the right to own guns is subject to reasonable restriction. Ironically, the Roberts Court would deny the right to own weapons that might be useful in resisting tyrannical government, such as anti-tank missiles.

Why is the gun control debate so emotionally charged, and in what ways does it divide the nation?

An important element in this is the culture wars. Passionate advocates of widespread gun ownership tend to oppose abortion rights, environmental protection, affirmative action, et cetera. We are two countries. Our cultural and political divides are deeper and more passionate than in any of the advanced democracies—France, the UK, Germany, et cetera— that I know. Guns are part of the culture wars.

In spite of Big Tobacco’s efforts to deny the link between cigarette smoking and early death, the government is imposing increasing restrictions on the sale of cigarettes, and smoking is becoming increasingly taboo. Why doesn’t the number of gun deaths stir a similar, broad level of outrage?

Because gun lovers reasonably say that criminals will always get guns. Even with effective restrictions, this country is so awash in guns it would take decades to retrieve them. And every year that goes by means that even more and more terrifying weapons are widely distributed.

It may well be that nothing can be done that is effective. The NRA’s effective advocacy of having all types of weapon readily available has created a situation from which it would be incredibly difficult to extricate ourselves. We are awash in firearms more suitable to warfare than self-defense or hunting.


146 Comments on Colorado Shooting Suspect’s Legal Arsenal: Where Is the Outrage?

  • MayThereStillBeHope on 07.25.2012 at 2:41 am

    Thanks very much for writing and publishing this article which gives context to the situation, and, together with Professor Wilson’s input, helps make the situation, sadly, more understandable.

    We have lost our way as a society, as a caring community, when it comes to this issue of guns and their role in continual killings of innocents.

    There’s a dearth of reason, as well as outrage, heard in the wake of the Aurora massacre. You may well have seen this, but, if not, it’s the most sane response so far from a public person I’ve seen. It comes not from the President nor from the would-be-Commander-in- Chief – but from actor Jason Alexander who very clearly makes his case @ http://www.twitlonger.com/show/if2nht

    • Freddy D. on 07.25.2012 at 8:14 am

      I get a little chuckle every time I hear the panicked cry of “gun control”. It really is not about GUN control, it is all about PEOPLE control. The biased reporting available to our masses glosses over the carnage on our highways hearing NOTHING about “vehicle control” with 30,000 dying by vehicle every year.Gun and vehicle outrage can and should be grouped into a set of outrages that “people control” should address.Better yet buy a gun and a car and protect yourself.

      • Sam Stone on 07.25.2012 at 8:39 am

        Naive. There’s all sorts of “car control” (licences, speed limits, inspections, etc.) But more to the point, cars are made specifically for transportation, not for killing. Sure, there are accidents. People fall down stairs too… should we institute “leg control”?

        • Andrea on 07.25.2012 at 10:35 am

          I find that also naive. There are many, many laws regarding who can own guns. Sadly, no own is able to predict the future. Like all other restrictive privileges, including driving laws, gun laws are based off of an individual’s past. I have two guns in my name. They are both rifles, which I use to help support my family through subsistence hunting. My family also legally owns several large handguns, one of which is (responsibly) kept in the house for protection, the others of which (along with all our other guns) are kept in a gun safe and used for bear protection on hunting and camping trips. We also have several shot guns for fowl. All of this is legal for responsible adults. It is not fair to use any one person, including the most responsible, as the basis for all gun laws. The massacre in Aurora was terrible and tragic, and I am sorely depressed that there are people who can inflict so much pain on others. However, driving drunk or recklessly also too frequently results in the deaths of innocent people.
          I also believe it is fair to say that it is a rarity for guns used in crimes to be legally attained. Restricting the rights of responsible people will do little to prevent future gun crimes.

      • Maria R on 07.25.2012 at 8:57 am

        Thank you.

  • Ryan on 07.25.2012 at 3:41 am

    crime control, not gun control. Many people do actually like to protect and provide safety for their families by owing guns for self defense, hunting, or recreational purposes. Just because some wackos with deep psychological problems decide to flip their shit doesn’t mean that the rest of the population should then become even more vulnerable by taking their guns. If anything it should be a sign to the opposite effect.

    • Sam Stone on 07.25.2012 at 7:47 am

      You only need a gun to “protect” yourself from other gun owners. So what happens when the other guy gets a rocket launcher? And exactly how many times have you had to pull a gun to protect yourself?

      • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 8:13 am

        False. I need to a gun to protect me from: rioters, knife wielding crazys, oppressive governments, gangbangers, rapists, thugs, any criminal with a blunt object, any time I don’t have professional armed protection like most people in professional politics who oppose gun rights et al.

        • Sam Stone on 07.25.2012 at 8:36 am

          OK then… How many times have you had to pull a gun to protect yourself from “rioters, knife wielding crazys, oppressive governments, gangbangers, rapists, thugs, (or) any criminal with a blunt object”? I’ll bet the answer is none. But you won’t say that because then your argument fails.

          • Maria R on 07.25.2012 at 9:02 am

            Sam is that the same reasoning not to get immunizations or insurance or an education? You might not need those. Enough nanny state. How about we fix the economy and actual government jobs and leave the honest law abiding people alone.

          • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 9:13 am

            No, actually it doesn’t. Many other people have had to pull their weapon to protect themselves, it happens hundreds, if not thousands of times, every single day. Oft unreported, because most times, you don’t have to shoot once you draw. My personal experience with using a weapon in self defense, which, btw, is not zero like you claim, does not mean that no one ever in the history of gun ownership has never used their gun in self defense.
            Like I said, LA riots, Korea town, left to die, look it up.
            But you won’t because you’re not interested in objectivity. Your personal pride and obvious lack of background in logic betray you, sir.

          • Steve on 08.30.2012 at 9:02 pm


            Two shots went off next door to me a couple hours ago and I kept my little sister and my loaded rifle with me until the police arrived several minutes later. Nobody was injured, but if someone that wanted to hurt me or my family tried to get into my home I would much rather have the upper hand in the fight.

            Violent crimes happen every day and innocent people that could have protected themselves and their loved ones with a firearm and proper training end up dead or injured because the media says that guns are bad. Think about it, if one person in the movie theater where the massacre happened were carrying a weapon, they may have been able to stop the murderer before he killed a single person.

            I’m not arguing against background checks but if somebody breaks into your house wouldn’t you rather it be them than you? If not, at least don’t try to take the right to a firearm from those of us that would use a weapon to stop a criminal that poses an imminent threat in the absence of law enforcement officers.

            Independently from my experience tonight, I feel that Graham Wilson’s comments are solely based on his opinion and have very little backing. The reality is that legal weapons are only used in a minute fraction of firearm crimes, with illegal weapons that can not be traced back to their owners being the weapons of choice of most felons.

      • confused on 07.26.2012 at 7:47 pm

        if some other guy gets a rocket launcher you shoot him with your gun.

    • Abram on 07.25.2012 at 8:33 am

      Do you regularly hunt with an AK-47? Assaulting rifles are for assaulting, not hunting, nor defending, for that matter.
      Just cause some wackos “feel vulnerable” doesn’t mean the country should be awash in weapons manufactured and intended for use in war.

      • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 8:58 am

        Assaulting rifles are for assaulting?

        Assault rifles are a legal classification (which is shady to say the least) not a statement of their purpose….

        Do US Army members change rifles when they are defending a fixed position versus taking a building?

      • Josh L on 07.25.2012 at 10:03 am

        AK-47’s make perfectly acceptable hunting rifles. Many people use them every year to take deer and boar. The intended use of a device doesn’t affect its possible uses – the pyrotechnics James Holmes rigged his apartment with weren’t intended to kill people, but they easily could have.

      • Steve on 08.30.2012 at 9:25 pm


        Military weapons are often the most effective choices for people who are in a situation in which they may have to defend themselves and their loved ones from a violent criminal intent on doing them harm. These arms are optimized for short-range combat with other humans, unlike most hunting weapons. For example, hunting rifles often use ammunition that is far too powerful to use safely in an urban area due to the distance bullets can travel and their ability to penetrate obstacles such as walls. Military “assault rifles” tend to fire less powerful rounds that allow for better control of the weapon.

        A defensive carbine, or “assault rifle” as gun control proponents would call it, may seem over the top until you are in a do or die situation. A criminal that wants to rob or rape or kill is less likely to harm an armed and trained victim.

        Read my post above, I had to take out my rifle tonight.

    • Anne on 07.26.2012 at 3:40 pm

      Hear, hear. Guns don’t kill people: people kill people. And we are living in an increasingly secular world obsessed with entitlements, selfishness, and cultural relativism which blurs the line between right and wrong. While an increasingly lenient and self-serving justice system is resulting in shorter sentences–if any is given at all, the need for the people to protect themselves is ever more pressing. Unfortunately, there are evil people who don’t think twice about harming others, and owning a gun offers at least some protection.

  • John Smith on 07.25.2012 at 5:22 am

    This might have been an interesting article were it not for the blatant political activism of Professor Graham Wilson. He complains of others’ activism, but how about a higher level of objectivity next time, sir?

    • Abram on 07.25.2012 at 8:40 am

      People: not every question has two, opposed answers that are equally reasonable. You have been watching Fox news too long if you think this is the way education works. Look at the reality, look at the arguments, then judge. To be “objective” in the face of repeated tragedy not to feel; it is to be inhuman. You call seeking to make a change “activism”? Fine; wake up from your passive-ism.

      • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 9:08 am

        Telling people to look at the reality of the situation, while at the same time basing your entire reaction in emotion and not fact, seems contradictory does it not? Calling him inhuman is a cheap cop out utilized because you know the numbers don’t support your position.

    • Maria R on 07.25.2012 at 9:03 am

      Yes, the sarcasm and glittering generalities could have been left by the wayside.

    • LG on 07.25.2012 at 10:03 am

      Completely agree. The political snipes lessen the force of his arguments.

      Lesson #1: Sound reasonable and your reasoning may persuade. Imitate the partisan politicians you criticize and you only look foolish.

    • Josh L on 07.25.2012 at 10:07 am

      I agree with John Smith. Did strict gun control protect the Japanese from the gas attacks? Would gun control have stopped the Oklahoma city bombing? When deranged individuals decide to take the lives of others, they will be able to find a way to do so. Rather than attempting to restrict the access of civilians to weapons, are more effective way of preventing such massacres would be to develop profiles to determine who is liable to commit such crimes. If the previous sentence didn’t sound creepily 1984 to you, you must live in the “other country” that Dr. Wilson referred to.

    • Boston Phoenix on 07.25.2012 at 11:09 am

      I would listen more attentively to Prof Wilson if he didn’t use the word “massacre” so liberally.

  • A. Lynn on 07.25.2012 at 6:12 am

    Wow. Slant much?! I didn’t realize the professors were allowed to peach their positions as fact. Not to mention the massive assumptions made in those statements without backing and the lumping of gun owners into certain categories. In the interest of education BU Today should find a professor in the Right of this topic and ask them the same questions.

    • Lifelong student on 07.25.2012 at 8:06 am

      You didn’t realize professors were allowed to preach their positions as fact? Then you have never been to college…

      And, there are no professors on the “Right”. That’s an automatic disqualification from the profession.

      • Andrea on 07.25.2012 at 10:43 am

        Wrong. I have a relative that is a very prestigious professor (he was even a head mathematician at NASA in his younger years), and he is very opposed to gun control. In fact, he and I frequently make dates at the shooting range to catch up and practice our gun handling for future hunting trips.

        • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 10:57 am

          Sign me up! haha

        • Anne on 07.26.2012 at 3:47 pm

          Wow, your relative is a rare treasure, Andrea! I’ve known only one conservative professor, and he kept his cards so close to his vest I had no idea what his political leanings were until I noticed he was the faculty adviser to the college’s Young Republicans club. Compare that to the rest of my professors and instructors who spent last year using a string of slurs when talking about the Tea Party and calling conservatives Nazis.

  • BU Alum on 07.25.2012 at 6:26 am

    If it wasn’t perceived as so “bad” for a U.S. citizen to carry a legally obtained handgun, even open carry, then this stuff wouldn’t be so prevelant. So sad that someone else in that theater didn’t have a weapon…otherwise the carnage would have been much less. Or better yet, the bad guy would think twice if he felt there was a good liklihood that he could get shot himself.

    Another liberal moonbat professor that thinks they know more than the less smart people. Give me a break.

    • Sam Stone on 07.25.2012 at 7:52 am

      Right… someone else in the theater would have stood up – under fire no less – and shot this guy; just like they do in the movies. In the U.S. military, only 14% (Marine Corps) and 10% (Army) of all rounds fired even go downrange! Far less than 1% impact a target. Stop kidding yourself. No one would have done what you suggested and, if they did, the only thing they would have hit is other theater patrons. It’s one thing to fire into a crowd of 200 with a shotgun… quite another to pick out one individual in a dark room.

      • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 8:11 am

        Happens in Israel quite frequently. That is why terrorists prefer bombs and not guns.

        And if you are going to say 10% of trained professionals will fire, you’re actually helping my position, because that implies responding police won’t put him down. Best arm as MANY people as possible, so that statistically, at least one person takes the shot.

        Good argument, you should use that more often.

        • Sam Stone on 07.25.2012 at 8:45 am

          I said that only 10% of U.S. Army rounds fired in a firefight actually go downrange. I said it because I thought you would be able to infer that lesser-trained civilians would fare even worse. I was wrong – you missed the target.

          And Israel… which everyone seems to be citing – is a different animal all-together. EVERYONE 18 and over in Israel is either in or has been in the military – men and women both. If you would like to support that paradigm in our country, I suggest you do so by joining up… now.

          • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 9:01 am

            Yes, the number of people who fire their weapons in combat is comparable. What you fail to realize is more trained soldier do not fire at the enemy. Such has been the case for decades.

            Yes, because military training with an m-16 varient prepairs you for conceal pistol carry in an urban enviroment. Nice try though, really. For some one who knows nothing about guns you’re doing an excellent job!

      • Jared Santos on 07.25.2012 at 9:18 am

        Sam – I see you are for gun control. I own the shotgun for recreation (I shoot trap/skeet regularly) and own the handgun as I live in Alaska and camp/hike frequently. I use bear spray to protect form bears and the handgun for wolves (and yes, that is a real concern as I have 2 neighbors who were attacked and 5 dogs in my neighborhood killed by wolves).

        I would agree with you that some sort of licensing should be implemented for guns. License for a car, why not a gun. However I do believe that this serial killer in CO would have been able to acquire a license. He was a PhD student with no criminal background.

        Similarly, if all guns were outlawed, don’t you believe a serial killer as such would have found another way to kill people (a bomb made from gasoline for example). He was obviously smart (PhD student) and would have been able to figure it out.

        Realistically, I think that even if we lived in a world without guns that psychopaths bent on killing will be successful.


        • Sam Stone on 07.25.2012 at 10:34 am

          See Carlitos’ response to Brian below… that pretty much says it.

  • Renaldo on 07.25.2012 at 6:44 am

    The possession and free flow of guns belong to the essential nature of America’s peculiar style of democracy, and has been since this country’s inception. Lurking behind American “freedom” is the ever-present possibility of violence. It’s no irony that the sale of guns spikes after such tragedies as in Aurora. This is the reason we accept the 30,000 annual deaths to gunfire without so much as the shrugging of our shoulders. The result is that since WWII, some 2 million people have been killed by gunfire on the streets of our “apple pie and mom” communities. While other, more civilized, countries openly equate American democracy with violence, we of course simply cannot talk about this unpleasant fact in the public arena. After such tragedies as Columbine and Aurora, we quickly wash away the blood splattered about and go about our business, thinking, ‘Well, at least it didn’t happen to me.’ On the other hand, we have no problems talking about the atrocities and violence that occurs in *other* countries, the barbarity of German fascism and the like. Only among a very small percentage of educated Americans is this hypocrisy recognized and discussed. The NRA–the “fourth branch” of the American government–will make sure such discussion is tolerated only on college campuses… at the end of a barrel, if needed.

    • Sam Stone on 07.25.2012 at 7:53 am


    • Peter on 07.25.2012 at 7:57 am

      Majority of the death by guns are suicides. Perhaps with rights restrictions the rope industry would benfit. The remainder are about 80% gang/felon related. You know , the ones supplied by people like Eric Holder, who don’t obey restriction/registry any way. We hear nothing here, of the those who use defensive firearms to justifiably protect themselves, and others

      • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 8:34 am

        There is so much right about this post, I don’t even…..

    • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 7:59 am

      Yes, please equate a human rights issue (the right to self defense) with Nazism. See how far that gets you. What more civilized countries? France?(recent riots) Britain?(handling o the IRA) Russia?(millions dead by their own policy during WW2) Sweden? (remained nuetral and helped the Nazi Party during WW2) Ireland?(see sweden) This is it man, we are all people, every country has a dark side. To say otherwise….is just plain ignorant. Either that, or you’re deluding yourself because it is comfortable for you to do so. Unfortunately, you live in a community where you are patted on the back for your baseless opinion, and not challenged on your obvious logical flaws and shortcomings.

    • MoonBatman on 07.25.2012 at 9:06 am

      So, Peter, 20% of 2 million leaves how many needless deaths?

      Rob, speaking of baseless opinion, did you know that the right to self-defense is not, in fact, a “human right”? It is one that governments do, selectively, choose to legally protect, and exercise themselves in an international context. That context is where these weapons belong, if anywhere. The right to life, and to live in reasonably decent societies that do not create potential war-zones through their poor gun policy, is closer to a human right. In other words, it is closer to protection than defense.

      You wingnuts believe that big bad “government” is incapable of removing or mitigating the offense, but your use of historical examples to prove this is selective and sloppy. WWII examples are tired, friends; read a new book, or the same ones more deeply. Look at Norway—the *people* of Norways whose government and courts have courageously reflected *their* values of forgiveness and humanity in the face of a similar (if not greater) tragedy.

      Because you persist in thinking that the law of the jungle is all—baaad people everywhere and for always—you lack imagination, and hope. So have fun in your garrison-state of mind; I’m sure you’ll be quite ready for invasion or apocalypse. The rest of us are going to continue to work to make things better.

      • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 9:19 am

        If you believe that people don’t have the right to life, there is nothing I can do for you sir.
        Self defense is a natural derivative of such a right. Since you don’t believe in the former, how could you possibly believe in the latter?

        My ww2 examples are tired and sloppy? Your side brought them up, equates gun owners with nazis, nice try though.

        I “lack imagination and hope”? You lack a proper foundation in social contract theory and democracy studies. Democracy IS the jungle. Just because you insert a referee and make a few rules doesn’t prevent the lapse back into the State of War.

        “read a new book”? You first, there are plenty proving the science of my position. While you focus narrowly on one effect and ignore the whole picture.

      • Ron Paul on 07.25.2012 at 9:40 am

        Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it. The US has been the bastion of liberty the world over since its inception for one reason and that reason is the second amendment.

        It is time for all those who simply do not undetand this to stand down.

        Better yet go to Jews for the Presevartion of Firearms Ownership and see what they think and why; no one knows more about the right to self sefense than the Jews.

        By the way rights come from your creator and require no action by anyone else as you wrongly beleive. Government can be instituted among men to defend those rights. ONce your safety depends on government action it is no longer a right buy a privilige.

  • Sam Stone on 07.25.2012 at 7:27 am

    The overarching issue is that, in contrast to the system our founding fathers designed, our politicians today are “professionals”… this is what they do for a living. As such, they are slaves to any lobby that can promise a few votes. The system, as designed by our forefathers, relied on successful businessmen and farmers to serve their country by representing their neighbors. Only the “successful” could do this as they weren’t paid. In his day, if threatened with being voted out of office, Thomas Jeffferson would have welcomed it. The only real solution to what’s wrong with our federal government is term limits. Yet, these professional politicians are not going to vote themselves out of a job. Thus a “national referendum” would be required but again, it requires these self-serving politicians to act… and they won’t. Solve the problem of “professional politicians” and you’ve solved a host of the county’s problems – including gun control, where common sense apparently doesn’t apply.

  • Carlitos Corazon on 07.25.2012 at 7:41 am

    I’m as so sick of the gun lobby phrase: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Get a clue – guns kill people. This guy couldn’t have “stabbed” 12 people to death and injured over 50 more in the less than two minutes it took the police to arrive. The ease with which he was able to acquire these weapons, and thus the act itself, is the direct responsibility of the nation’s gun lobby, the politicians they own, and the numerous gun nuts (why do you think they’re called that?) that support them. It’s on you guys: You might as well have shot these people yourselves and, some of you will do much the same in the future. Take some ownership! If you want to carry a pistol (“handguns are made for killing, they ain’t good for nothing else”) or kill deer for some unjustifiable reason, then own it. These deaths are your fault. Either lose the assault or roger up for your part in these atrocities.

    • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 8:09 am

      I am willing to do that, as soon as people such as yourself take ownership of the atrocities committed by unchecked oppressive governments everywhere.

      Deal? That puts my count at about….a couple thousand, and yours at…..a couple billion.

      Good trade!

      • Carlitos Corazon on 07.25.2012 at 8:33 am

        That’s what a “well-regulated militia” is for. You need to separate youself from the miitary. If you can’t, then join up. They’ll be happy to let you shoot people in Aghanistan.

        • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 9:05 am

          Like I told the other person wasting their tuition at BU….A well regulated is not a professional army, and no where does it say that a well regulated militia must be regulated by the state.

          Good try.

          • Carlitos Corazon on 07.25.2012 at 9:17 am

            You are wrong in so many ways… but you are also a fully brain-washed and indoctrinated member of the “gun nut” lobby. Ahh, if only you could think for yourself. I say again: join up. Otherwise, you have no voice here.

          • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 10:46 am

            Since I can’t reply, this is to the guy above.

            If only I could apply that newfangled science, or actually knew what words meant? Amiright? Too bad your parents are wasting all that money for you to go to BU :(

    • Brian on 07.25.2012 at 10:07 am

      I have never seen a gun fire itself. There are sick people in the world and unfortunately there isn’t much we can do about it. Let’s pretend for a minute we had a gun ban in place. And then let’s also assume he couldn’t easily get one from the black market or a gang or Mexico (who aren’t going to abide by any gun ban), he still could have thrown one of his countless IEDs that were in his apartment into the theater and probably done more damage. And by the way all the materials to make said IEDs are legal to obtain. So are we then going to ban pipes, gas cans and cleaning products?

      The problem is the people, not the devices they use to carry out their crimes.

      • Carlitos Corazon on 07.25.2012 at 10:32 am

        Yes Brian. You are right. The problem is with the people. But guns, specifically guns made for killing people (pistols and assault rifles, for instance) make if far easier to do. And that is all the justification one needs to severely restrict their use. And yes, a determined killer will find a way. But let’s not make it easy on them. Or maybe we should up the ante and allow just anyone to buy a grenade launcher, a machinegun or a small nuclear device?

        • Brian on 07.25.2012 at 2:10 pm

          Of all the mass shootings over the past decade how many were perpetrated by a person who randomly walked by a gun store and thought oh I might kill some people today. These people plan these things. This guy spent 4 months gathering supplies. Easy to get or not, he was going to get his guns.

          I agree there could be stricter regulations to obtain them and we could probably do without assault rifles, but this tradgey would still have happened.

      • Tom on 07.26.2012 at 1:05 pm

        Brian, According to Wikipedia “Gun control laws in Mexico are extremely strict in comparison to the United States, making it difficult for the average citizen to purchase anything larger than a .22 caliber.” I don’t know that it’s working, but Mexico obviously has other problems that contribute to violence. Wikipedia says that Mexico used to have more relaxed gun control laws until riots in the 1960s prompted then to change the laws. Just thought it was interesting.

        -Prospective customers need a permit from the army that can take up to several months to receive.
        -Limited amounts of ammunition they can buy each month
        -Where an individual can take the gun
        -Who gun owners can sell it to
        -All privately owned guns must be registered with the Mexican military
        -If Owners want to transport their firearms outside their homes they must obtain permit that must be renewed annually.


        • Rob on 07.27.2012 at 3:02 pm

          Yes, their gun control laws have totally stopped the drug cartels from killing thousands with guns.

          Mexico is an excellent case study for gun control not working,

  • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 7:47 am

    “[gun owners] tend to oppose abortion rights, enviromental protection and affirmative action ectera” Unfortunately, it is gross stereotypes like this, from people who obviously have no backrgound in security, weapons usage, or training, that posion the waters of the debate before it even begins. By dragging negative stereotypes about people she hasn’t even met(with no data to back it up I might add) Miss Seligson commits the grossest of unchecked ad hominem attacks. I can’t say I blame her. That’s all those who affirm gun control have left, baseless personal attacks. Yale just released a study proving that states who made it easier to get a handgun permit had a significant decrease in crime. Israel is another case study affirming the value of citizen carry. israel issues numerous handgun permits, and has had numerous mass shootings pervented by citizens(but I am just a Zionist anti-Palestine racist, the natural follow up to “anti-envrioment, anti-minority, anti-woman….charges already levied without basis). The most daming evidence of all is that international headlines rarely talk about mass shootings. What do they talk about? Bombings. The fact of the matter is bombings are, and will continue to be, the choice of professional killers everywhere. Guns are less efficient, more likely to fail, and harder to maintain, train with, and use effectively. The largest mass shooting on record counts 70ish people. 55 died in the LA riots when the police abandoned whole sections of the city to rioters. Want to know when you really need a gun? When you are Korea town in the middle a city during one of the worst race riots in history. When the police leave you to die, because they don’t have enough resources to protect everyone and they decide “your section” is just going to have to be on its own for a while. Look it up. But that doesn’t happen in America, right? And Federal Soldiers have never been ordered to take up arms against civilians either…right?

    The reason people use guns is because guns are selective in their targeting. Why did the IRA favor the bomb when on the offensive, and the gun on the defensive? the bomb was more destructive, and thus used in enemy territory, whereas they didn’t want to blow up their own stockpiles when defending against raids, so they employed guns on the home turf.
    Banning guns legislates mass killers into being more efficient, and increases crime. I can back that up with actual data. I don’t need to call you a constitution hating, inherently biased, ivory tower living, intellectually lazy, 99%er wannabe to get my point across, nor do I need insert any kind false premise about the second amendment.

    The second amendment is about killing people. It isn’t about hunting. It isn’t about sport shooting. It is about having the inherent human right to defend yourself from opressors and those who would take your rights and your life. Be they criminals, agents of a foreign government, rouge members of a conevtional army, or god forbid, members of a domestic Army turned against the people. What is the value of this you ask? Go ask people in Rwanda (btw: the most effective genocide in recent memory was carried out with machetes, better ban those too), go ask people in Russia, go ask people in the war torn regions of Africa, or Israel, or any other place in the world where stability isn’t a factor in people’s daily life. You have the benefit of living in a country that hasn’t had a serious foreign invasion since 1812. Those 200 years of peace have apparently robbed you of perspective of the human condition. It is conflict. Again, something I can back up with data, not baseless, unsubstantiated name calling.

    • Sam Stone on 07.25.2012 at 8:18 am

      All your arguments justify a “well regulated militia”, which is manifested by our U.S. Armed Forces. But, how does that justify putting guns in the hands of the mentally deranged?

      By the way, you’re reading way too much one-sided, statistically-selective NRA pablum – you don’t actually believe this stuff, do you? If so, you’re just a marionette, dancing as they pull your strings.

      • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 8:31 am

        Once again, false. A well regulated militia and a professional army are not the same thing. Also, where does it say the militia must be well regulated….by the state?

        So now scientific evidence coupled with historical perspective is amarionette dancing on a string? Do you actually attend BU? Shame to go an institute of higher learning and still adhere to personal belief over evidence and fact(read: squander a great opportunity)

        • Sam Stone on 07.25.2012 at 9:07 am

          Merriam-Webster dictionary:
          MILITIA –
          a: a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency
          b: a body of citizens organized for military service

          Note the words “armed forces” and “military”… Sounds like the National Guard to me; Wich, since the beginning of the War in Iraq and continuing though the conflict in Afghanistan, equates to a professional soldier.

          Seriously, if you actually believe what your are reciting from your NRA propaganda pamphets, the you really should drop out of school and join the Army. From what I can tell from your writing, you are just what they’re looking for. Put your money where your mouth is.

          • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 9:24 am

            Congrats! You applied a modern definition to document over two centuries old! Why not read what people at the time said about such things? Oh wait, you won’t because that would be “dangerous to your position”.

            Seriously, if you are going to debate at least know the basics.

          • Anonymous on 07.25.2012 at 10:19 am

            Under US code at the time, “militia” meant all male citizens over 17 years of age, very clearly referring to individuals rather than any organized body of soldiery.

          • M on 07.25.2012 at 10:56 pm

            A current definition really doesn’t apply to the what the founding fathers meant. I have spent much time researching most fathers individually and collectively to form my own opinions on current topics. Rob’s argument about the intent of the militia is spot on from everything I’ve found. You really can’t argue with the fathers’ direct quotes on the subject…and there are plenty on the intent of the second amendment.

    • Tom on 07.25.2012 at 3:09 pm

      Rob, Susan Seligson is the author of the article, she didn’t say that quote. Professor Graham Wilson did and before you attack him for “dragging negative stereotypes about people [he] hasn’t even met (with no data to back it up I might add)” maybe you should look into it yourself? Most of your arguments here are anecdotal and not backed up with sources. As for that particular quote, I think he’s probably right; being a stereotype doesn’t automatically make something false. Seeing how he’s a professor and chair of the political science department I think he’s probably more focused on the bigger picture and doesn’t need a “backrgound in security, weapons usage, or training” to do research into how lack of gun control affects a country as a whole. Out of curiosity, what is your background in security, weapons usage, and training? In your comments you attack people calling them biased and intellectually lazy, but what makes you different?

      • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 4:50 pm

        The stereotype, like the ad hominem attacks against me throughout this discussion, is a cheap cop out and is unsubstantiated by the sources you so crave. I find it hypocritical you lambaste my “anecdotal” assertions due to lack of evidence, and then in the very next sentence, support an anecdotal assertion with no evidence. He presented no actual facts, and almost immediately casts gun owners as anti-women, anti-environment etc. it’s an intentional debate tactic. Nothing he said was a factual statement about the country as a whole, it was general opinion and knee-jerk reaction to an act of evil. Having studied under him, I know he is smarter and a much better debater than that.

        My assertions are based in fact. The stats I reference are readily available for any one who is willing to do a little reading. For example,

        “In the first six months of this year, there were 14% fewer murders in Chicago compared to the first six months of last year – back when owning handguns was illegal. It was the largest drop in Chicago’s murder rate since the handgun ban went into effect in 1982.

        Meanwhile, the other four most populous cities saw a total drop at the same time of only 6 percent.

        Similarly, in the year after the 2008 “Heller” decision, the murder rate fell two-and-a-half times faster in Washington than in the rest of the country.

        It also fell more than three as fast as in other cities that are close to Washington’s size. And murders in Washington have continued to fall.”

        In addition, none of the loyal opposition cite sources, but you don’t seem to have a problem with that. Nor do you seem to have a problem with their ad hominem attacks, nor their inability to address key points.

        You are correct, I should have said permitted, as she did not challenge his assertions. But no, she did not say that, he did.

        You may ask my background, but I am disinclined to answer. I can tell you thing, I can give you the legal definition of an assault rifle. I don’t think they “are for assaulting” as one poster so aptly put it.

        • Tom on 07.26.2012 at 11:13 am

          It wasn’t an assertion. I simply said I think he’s right even if it is a stereotype. This wasn’t a debate, it was an interview. Just because you think an assertion is “based” in fact, doesn’t make it fact. Your assertions might be, and those examples you provided are what I was looking for. But just because someone says something doesn’t make it true, esp on the internet.

          Below Dave says “For your information-drunk drivers kill more people per a year then do guns all togther.” This sounds like it could be true, esp with how many cars are on the road today. A quick Google search shows that he is wrong though even if you don’t consider suicides or the fact that there are 3-4 times as many licensed drivers as gun owners. Maybe he didn’t intend for it to be a factual statement. I’m not holding you responsible for Dave being wrong. People on all sides of arguments say extreme and incorrect statements either because of ignorance or to make a point. I’m just explaining why I wouldn’t automatically believe your or anyone’s statements without sources or at least examples.

          Which leads me to your loyal opposition, they are not me, they don’t speak for me, and I don’t take responsibility for anything they say. I saw you try to counter another person’s comment with this same nonsense. That being said I would want everyone on both sides to cite sources or give examples. Making ridiculous claims and not backing them up weakens that side of the argument for everyone.

          Why are you disinclined? I wasn’t looking for a memoir, just some info on your experiences with guns. I’ll tell you that I’ve never held a gun or seen one fired in person. You’ll notice I don’t actually say much about guns for that reason. I don’t even think banning them is reasonable, I just think there needs to be more discussion about how to prevent guns from ending up in the wrong hands, both legally and illegally. I don’t think discussion about a controversial issue is ever a bad thing.

          You can give me the legal definition, but you don’t haha. According to Dictionary.com it is either a military rifle capable of both automatic and semiautomatic fire or a nonmilitary weapon modeled on the military assault rifle, usually modified to allow only semiautomatic fire, which is very helpful.

          My initial reason for replying to your post was just to correct you on the quote you attributed to Susan Seligson, but I had a couple comments as well.

          • Rob on 07.26.2012 at 3:07 pm

            Yes, that is my point exactly, yet you throw your lot in with the unestablished stereotype of Professor Wilson.

            My point wasn’t that everything they said is wrong, which is pretty much is, but that you are selectively asking for objectivity in a way to attempt to color the debate, and help the side you favor. It’s called selective accountability. If you really cared about fairness, you would hold every one to the same standard. however, you replied only to me, thus revealing your bias.

            You say that, but your selective application of accountability reveals otherwise.

            I actually have given the definition, I just didn’t include specific items that meet the list, such as a pistol grip, flash suppressor, grenade threads, bayonet, collapsible stocks, etc because they vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, like I said. Overall, there are mods that affect what you can do with the rifle. It has nothing to do with selective fire capabilities when discussing what is legal or not in MA.

            and I appreciate that, as I did misspeak, and it colored the intent of the point, which was to say she isn’t interested in objectivity as she didn’t challenge such an obvious personal attack on gun owners.

          • Tom on 07.27.2012 at 10:07 am

            Rob, to your reply above: “If you really cared about fairness, you would hold every one to the same standard. however, you replied only to me, thus revealing your bias.”

            Actually if you looked around before making a statement like that you would see that I also corrected Dave, who is pro guns, about drunk driving killing more people than guns and Paranoid who seems pro gun control.

            “The situation totally sucks but to look on the bright side it would be very difficult for foreign invaders to take control of the US. With our 90 guns per 100 people it raises the bar on asymmetrical warfare.”

            Maybe in certain areas of the country this is true, but overall there are nowhere near that many guns.

            It wasn’t a correction really, but someone made a comment that Mexico would never go along with a US ban on guns. While I was reading about gun control I noticed that Mexico actually has much stricter gun control laws than the US does, so I replied saying this.

          • Rob on 07.27.2012 at 12:08 pm

            You made these “corrections” well after your bias had been pointed out an established, your motives in such a minor “correction” it wasn’t really, and your correction was merely as assertion made without evidence. His statement is closer to the truth than yours. You handling of the anti-gun side here has about as much “teeth” as a newborn babe.

      • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 4:56 pm

        wait wait wait. I need to look into what HE says, but I have to provide evidence for what I say?

        Why don’t people have to look into what I say?

        At least be consistent.

        • Tom on 07.26.2012 at 11:19 am

          I’m not at all sure what you’re referring to, but assuming “HE” is Professor Wilson then my reply would be that he has credentials and you don’t. It’s pretty clear that a tenured professor who chairs a department at a reputable university and has written nine books is more qualified to make comments about a subject that he does research in. You, like me and everyone else making comments here, are anonymous posters with no evident expertise.

          • Rob on 07.26.2012 at 3:09 pm

            All you know about him is the blurb in the profile? His area of expertise isn’t firearms. Having sat through his lectures, I know he is a very smart guy, but he has no substantial knowledge of “gun culture”

          • Tom on 07.27.2012 at 9:51 am

            And all I know about you is that you like guns, so what is your point?

          • Rob on 07.27.2012 at 12:04 pm

            Point being the credentials you mentioned are relatively meaningless within the context of this discussion.

  • T.J. on 07.25.2012 at 7:57 am

    I’m as so sick of hearing the gun lobby phrase: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Get a clue – guns kill people. This guy couldn’t have “stabbed” 12 people to death and injured over 50 more in the less than two minutes it took the police to arrive. The ease with which he was able to acquire these weapons, and thus the act itself, is the direct responsibility of the nation’s gun lobby, the politicians they all but own, and the numerous gun nuts (why do you think they’re called that?) that support them. It’s on you guys: You might as well have shot these people yourselves and, some of you will do much the same in the future. Take some ownership! If you want to carry a pistol (“handguns are made for killing, they ain’t good for nothing else”) or kill deer for some unjustifiable reason, then own it. These deaths are your fault.

    • Dave on 07.25.2012 at 8:50 am

      T.J. – if you say guns kill people -then what is there to say about cars (driven by drunk drivers) killing people ? For your information-drunk drivers kill more people per a year then do guns all togther.. Basicly I think we need to teach our children to love one another-when this is done why would one who loves others kill? The kiler in Aurora’s mother knew he was up to something but said nothing! See something? Say something!!

      • T.J. on 07.25.2012 at 9:12 am

        Without readdressing the vast difference between guns (for killing) and cars (for transportation), I think you are essentially right. And, although there are many, many differences, our “driving” laws could and should be beefed-up. Driving a car, like owning a gun, is NOT, in fact, a “right”.

      • Joe on 07.25.2012 at 10:09 am

        Dave – teaching love for all is a wonderful goal, yet it does nothing to address mental illness.

        The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that one in four adults, or approximately 60 million people suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.

        Please don’t think I am disagreeing with you, it’s just that I think your comment touched on something significant, mental illness and its place in society. I personally feel it is worth noting that these acts, in terms of causality, are often the effect and not the cause.

        Speaking metaphorically, it can appear that we are debating the use of automobiles on the weekends to curb drunk driving instead of focusing on the bigger issue of alcohol abuse.

        We should be discussing stereotypes associated with mental disorders and to a lesser degree, gun control.

        Source: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml

        • Dave on 07.25.2012 at 11:28 am

          Joe-I agree with regards there are mental illiness that need to be addressed. The shooter at Aurora had NO record at all. Im not sure abut applying for a gun permit in Colorado but in MA if you had mental issues most likely you would be denied a gun permit. I like the idea discussing sterotypes associated with mental disorders. The shooter obviosly had mental issues(it seems his mother knew) and should raised a red flag.. as far as drunk drivers -my point was if guns kill people -(some people want the guns banned) then if drunk drivers kill many more people why are people not chanting “lets ban cars”??

          • Joe on 07.25.2012 at 5:30 pm

            Well said.

      • Tom on 07.25.2012 at 5:26 pm

        Dave, a lot of people bring up this comparison, but what you said about drunk driving is entirely wrong. Check your facts; 10 minutes of Googling confirmed this. There were 10,560 alcohol related fatalities in 2009 and according to Wikipedia “31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007” with about 14,050 of those being non-suicides. Also, as T.J. says, cars are not designed to kill people. There are even far more licensed drivers than gun owners. In 2009 there were 211 million licensed drivers and 48,000 drivers involved in fatal accidents. That comes out to mean that on average 0.023% of all licensed drivers were involved in a fatal accident and 0.005% of drivers were involved in an alcohol related fatal accident in 2009. According to Wikipedia there are 44 million gun owners in the US with estimates ranging up to 80 million gun owners. That means on average 0.04-0.07% of registered gun owners are involved in a fatal shooting every year.


  • Morgan on 07.25.2012 at 7:59 am

    Thank you for writing such an unbiased piece that really helps people to understand the issues. I enjoyed both the questions and answers were purely factually. I specifically find the talk about fire off the most lethal rounds in as short a time perfect wording for a journalistic question.

    I also agree that a .223 is the most lethal round possible. Despite the fact that his AR jammed and he did most damage with his shotgun.

    • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 8:33 am


      • Maria R on 07.25.2012 at 9:08 am

        Where is the like button?

    • Ron Paul on 07.25.2012 at 9:33 am

      You obviously know nothing abuot guns except what you have been brain washed to beleive by the media and worthless thesis such as this article. If a .223 were the most leathal round possible as you think why is not the choice among hunters who want to kill their prey with a single shot? I certainly whould not want to try to drop a charging bruin with single .223 round either…………good luck with that!

    • Tom on 07.26.2012 at 11:33 am

      No, not win, not like, did any of you commenting actually go back and read the section Morgan is referring to? Susan didn’t say that a .223 is the most lethal round possible. Neither was she even specifically referring to the AR-15 that James Holmes used. The question was “To what do you attribute support for weapons that appear to have no purpose beyond firing the most lethal shots in the shortest time?” As in any gun that is designed to kill people quickly without having to reload often. Which is a legitimate question to ask regardless of whether or not Morgan personally thinks they should be legal.

      Morgan, do you really think that the fact that his particular gun happened to jam makes the AR-15 any less lethal?

      Before I start getting hate comments (I’m talking to you Rob haha), I’m not making a comment on gun control, just Morgan’s ineptitude at critical reading. The general quality of all comments here is lower than usual for a BU today article.

      • Rob on 07.26.2012 at 3:10 pm

        I fail to see how pointing out inconsistencies in your behavior constitutes “hate”? It is out of a belief in fairness, not “hate” that such standards are derived.

  • Z on 07.25.2012 at 8:25 am

    Criminals don’t care about gun control. They obtain weapons illegally regardless of laws. While Law abiding citizens could lose their rights to protect themselves and their families. See present day England/Great Britain. Protect the 2nd Amendment Rights! Don’t thread on me. People, educate yourselves on American History and what the Minutemen represented to this country, what being armed represented. If guns kill people, then pencils cause misspelled words, McDonald’s is responsible for fat people… …yeah, along those lines! Liberals are so quick to want to oppose guns, but when something happens they will come crying to the sheepdog for protection. Where would you be if the sheepdog is not around to protect you? Instead, I vote for removing all warning labels and let natural selection run its course. :)

  • Anonymous on 07.25.2012 at 8:31 am

    I’m more afraid of people like Wilson than I am of the occasional deranged sociopath. The right to self-defense is a basic human right, and while gun ownership continues to skyrocket in the United States, crime rates nationwide continue to fall (a fact conveniently neglected by Wilson). I’m not a gun owner and I don’t always agree with the NRA narrative, but I will do everything in my power to protect individual liberty in all forms. Because the truth is that the second amendment is about more than self-defense. It’s the amendment that guarantees the preservation of all the others.

    • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 10:59 am

      Anonamoose to the rescue! well stated sir, well stated. You are the calm collected narrator I could never be.

  • Stephen Dillon on 07.25.2012 at 8:35 am

    Your biased article and Professor Wilson’s statements are a typical knee jerk reaction to a tragedy of this magnitude and just reinforces my view point of the rants of an anti-gun fanatic who regurgitates the propaganda of the Brady Center. Professor Wilson sits high on his perch and from his Ivory Tower looks down at the minions who clutch to their “religion and guns” to pontificate on the ills of firearms.

    Professor Wilson’s doesn’t hide his extreme leftist views on this subject as he paints with a broad brush those who are “Passionate advocates of widespread gun ownership tend to oppose abortion rights, environmental protection, affirmative action, et cetera.” This adds nothing to the debate but attempts to label firearm advocates as opposing woman’s rights, are anti-environment and racists. Shame on you Professor Wilson.

    His anti-gun rhetoric of “Roberts Court has re-interpreted the Second Amendment “, ”For most of our history, the Second Amendment was interpreted as not providing for an individual right to own guns” and inflammatory language of “incredibly powerful guns”, is a calculated attempt to inculcate the readers of this article who most likely are unfamiliar with US history to be replaced with his brand of revisionist history. Very Orwellian…

    Tragedies happens every day in America, ask any family member who has lost a loved one. As an Iraqi war veteran, I’m willing to pay the price for freedom and liberty that the 2nd Amendment proves for.

    Some notable quotes:

    “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.”
    — Mahatma Gandhi

    “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government”

    — Thomas Jefferson, 1 Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334
    “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good”
    — George Washington

    “The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.”

    — Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers at 184-188

    • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 9:03 am

      That Ghandi quote just won the article.

      • Sam Stone on 07.25.2012 at 10:52 am

        Except it’s not a valid quote. That quote is actually an excerpt from a leaflet Gandhi participated in passing out to gain recruits to fight for Britain during World War I. Reading the quote in context in his autobiogaphy makes this crystal clear. The passage in which the quote occurs has absolutely nothing to do with gun control or gun legislation.

        Further, at no point in Gandhi’s 90-volume collected writings does he ever express a belief in an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. Gandhi is remembered for his passionate dedication to two principles: ahimsa, a Hindu vow to never consciously injure another living creature; and satyagraha, the belief that non-violent methods are the only methods that should ever be used to resist injustice and tyranny.

        And Rob, the fact that you jumped on the quote without verifying it is exactly where you have gone wrong in the gun control debate. You are just another Fox TV clone. You quote material you’ve never read and you glom on to anything or anyone that will support your previously drawn conclusions. Your drivel reads like excerpts from an NRA pamphlet.

        I know you. You’re just another tiny man with a gun pretending to be somebody. And I now realize you don’t have the guts to “join up” (which is why you keep “ducking” that discussion). It’s far easier for you to sit in your easy chair, order pizza, watch old Steven Seagal movies… and dream.

        • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 11:10 am

          Obviously a statement circulated on a pamphlet support by such a man has no bearing. In addition, despite addressing arms specifically, it obviously has nothing to do with guns.
          It was about national arms, I know that. So what? Implicit in the statement that a nation has the right to defend itself, is that the individual has a right to defend himself. For what is a nation but a collection of individuals? Why does a nation defend itself, but to defend the individual? Were he to support one, but not the other, he would be inconsistent and demonstrably wrong.

          Except, I didn’t quote him, I said it won the article, because it was hilarious, and damning (even in context).
          You know me? A tiny man with a gun pretending to be some one? I’m a man who adheres to science, data and logic in all circumstances, whereas you are a man who believes that others must be sacrificed at the alter to fulfill your delusion that the world is filled with nice people. Your argument boils down to this “Should some one break into your home at night intent on killing your family, they are an acceptable loss, because society is so damaged by the fact you lawfully and legally carried a gun”. How cold. How trite. How arrogant.

          You don’t know my background. You used it as a lame ad hominem argument because you have nothing else. in fact, your most compelling points have had nothing to do with gun control! You have no facts, you have no data, you have no background or knowledge of guns. All of this is clear in how you debate and argue. You have nothing, so you attack the man. Cheers mate, it’s been fun.

          Must be nice going to University to party, ’cause you sure as hell ain’t there to learn.

        • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 11:17 am

          O.K. Sam. I give up. You’re right. Frankly, I’ve been thinking about getting rid of my guns anyway. I only have them to make myself feel safe. It’s a scary world out there. I’m pretty much afraid all of the time. I won’t even go out of the house after dark. I really do need to turn off Fox TV, get off the NRA webpage, and get a job. I’ve eaten enough Ramen noodles to last a lifetime. I need help.

          • Sam Stone on 07.25.2012 at 11:55 am

            Thanks Rob. Good to see you came to your senses.

          • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 11:55 am

            Oh look an impersonator! How lovely.

            Like I said, none of you anti-gun folks can actually debate the science so you ad hominem it up! Classic.

          • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 12:24 pm

            Oh Great! An impersonator claiming that I’m / he’s being impersonated. I’m the “real” Rob… I don’t know who this other Rob is. I guess there’s more than one guy named Rob. Anyway, I agree with just about everything Sam Stone, Carlitos Corazon, and T.J. have said. This other Rob is too far out there.

    • Joe on 07.25.2012 at 9:48 am

      England has a very low number of gun owners. The incidents of violent crime involving knives has increased over the years.

      My fear is that gun control legislation will have a minimal effect and criminals will find and use substitutes…supply and demand.

      “I have a very strict gun control policy: if there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it.” – Clint Eastwood

      Knife crime law: Up to 400 more teenagers face custody: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15538305

      Knifepoint robberies rise by 10%, crime figures show: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16626558

      Knife crime rises by 8% in London: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-13966544

      Knife crime: Teenagers back custodial sentences: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15642551

  • Frank N Beans on 07.25.2012 at 8:47 am

    America loves it’s violence!

    • Dave on 07.25.2012 at 9:25 am

      Frank-you are the one who allows violence -no? (TV , Music , lack of morals,lax laws, ect..)?

      • Frank N Beans on 07.26.2012 at 9:46 am

        yeah, it’s all me Dave! You cracked the case.

    • A on 07.25.2012 at 9:56 am


  • Dave on 07.25.2012 at 9:28 am

    Stephen- you’re right on ! The comment by Wilson “Professor Wilson’s doesn’t hide his extreme leftist views on this subject as he paints with a broad brush those who are “Passionate advocates of widespread gun ownership tend to oppose abortion rights, environmental protection, affirmative action, et cetera.” This adds nothing to the debate but attempts to label firearm advocates as opposing woman’s rights, are anti-environment and racists. Shame on you Professor Wilson.” baffled me as well – sterotypist for a Professor!!

  • Ron Paul on 07.25.2012 at 9:28 am

    This article is what we should be outraged about. The second amendment is about defendng ourselfes from government and so it logically follows that the first step toward tyraany is the rgulation of guns. Nothing else needs to be said.

    Sadly 13 people died in a truck accident down in Texas a few days after this shooting but no one at BU is screaming fro more contols to protect people from that.

    This is not about guns it is about control period. The people who hate guns should move to China.

    • Tom on 07.26.2012 at 1:17 pm

      Key word ‘accident’, trucks are not designed to kill people. Why China? I would move to the UK or Canada if I was that worried about guns.

  • Joe on 07.25.2012 at 9:33 am

    The gun control argument will not be settled anytime soon.

    I support the right to own a gun, yet I personally fail to see why anyone needs an AR-15 semiautomatic, explosives or other weapons that clearly have no functional use. Have hunters taken to using IEDs and I have just not heard about it?

    Perhaps reenacting or creating legislation that addresses those types of weapons will help assuage parties on both sides of the debate.

    The bigger issue is that mental disorders continue to be ignored and misunderstood by society. I find it hard to believe that the shooter did not display any signs of disturbing behavior during the months leading to this horrible crime.

    I think debating gun control is focusing on the effect and not the cause.

    Until we all become more educated and shun stereotypes associated with mental illness, it is a sad fact that incidents such as this tragedy will continue, regardless of gun control legislation.

    My heart goes out to the victims and their families; I am so sorry for their loss.

    • Ron Paul on 07.25.2012 at 2:59 pm

      You cannot be seriious.

      Becuase the AR 15 is the modern day eqivalent of the brown bess that is why. The people need equal fire power to the military or the purpose of the second amendment is effectively negated. Have you ever seen a citizenry of any other country able to launch a successful armed insurrection against a rouge heavily arm modern army with nothing but single action revolvers?

      • Joe on 07.25.2012 at 5:35 pm

        “Equal firepower to the military?”

        How is that even possible?

        I do understand your point though. All I am saying is that pushing for gun control is not necessarily the answer, BUT I am willing to concede to restrictions on types of weapons.

        • Tom on 07.26.2012 at 1:23 pm

          Joe obviously we need to have the right to own rocket launchers, tanks, and fighter jets as well so we can have equal firepower to the military. Though we might have trouble affording them. I agree with you Joe about the right to own, but not an AR-15 or similar weapon. It doesn’t really make sense to bring up IEDs since they are ‘improvised’ by definition and not sold as is. As someone else pointed out you can’t really stop someone from buying pipes, fertilizer, gasoline or whatever else goes into an explosive device.

  • Paranoid on 07.25.2012 at 9:41 am

    The situation totally sucks but to look on the bright side it would be very difficult for foreign invaders to take control of the US. With our 90 guns per 100 people it raises the bar on asymmetrical warfare.

    • Carlitos Corazon on 07.25.2012 at 10:54 am

      You’re equating gun possession to bravery. Most of these gun nuts would be hiding under the bed… with their guns, of course.

      • Ron Paul on 07.25.2012 at 4:38 pm

        Your statement is not only unfounded but entirely pathetic. You could at least attempt to make an argument based in fact rather than throwing baseless insults at a bunch of people you do not even know anything about. As an example the 70 year old gun owner in Flroida who defended the computer cafe against two armed thugs did not look like a coward to me…..but perhaps to you this armed hero is a wimp we can do without.

        • Carlitos Corazon on 07.26.2012 at 11:49 am

          I said “most” and that is a statistically-supported fact. Particularly when you use the same statistical rigor that the gun lobby uses… i.e. none at all.

        • Tom on 07.26.2012 at 1:32 pm

          Ron, I was expecting someone to bring this up. Yes, he was definitely brave, but he’s lucky he surprised the robbers and they ran away. I watched the video and it doesn’t look like he ever hit them. It was lucky that the robbers didn’t shoot him or anyone else in the store. This is also one account, do you think it would be hard to find accounts around the same time near the same location of guns being used for bad intentions? Probably not. It doesn’t prove anything overall. You’re also talking about two robbers not foreign invaders.

    • Tom on 07.26.2012 at 1:44 pm

      Paranoid, I agree with your sentiment, but check your facts, it’s not hard. Wikipedia says there are about 192 million guns in the US, which is about 61 guns for every 100 people. In 2004 about 36% of households owned guns.

    • Paranoid on 07.26.2012 at 1:51 pm

      Certainly having a weapon can make one bolder. It is an advantage in a situation. Unfortunately if people are bolder and feel they have an advantage they are more likely to get in a situation that can escalate to a point where a weapon will be drawn. Its a fine line.

      There are many things that can be weapons though, not just firearms. My two cents are: Instead of putting more marginally effective controls on everyone and everything maybe as individuals we should be more in tune to the mental state of people around us. Take this crazy movie theater guy, how did he get to this point where he wanted to kill random people? Where was his support, friends, family, mentors, fellow students, neighbors? Did the gun dealer sense any issues with this guy? The modern world is very good at making people independent. We all have our heads down trying to work etc. Reaching out to others may pay dividends by avoiding these tragedies.

  • Dancing Bob on 07.25.2012 at 10:11 am

    I am completely baffled that BUToday would run an article about this moron. How did he even become a professor? It’s absolutely hilarious how ignorant he is about this topic.

    Comments above have already summarized his idiocy pretty well:

    “Criminals don’t care about gun control. They obtain weapons illegally regardless of laws. While Law abiding citizens could lose their rights to protect themselves and their families.”

    “Your biased article and Professor Wilson’s statements are a typical knee jerk reaction to a tragedy of this magnitude”

    “I’m more afraid of people like Wilson than I am of the occasional deranged sociopath.”

    • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 10:55 am

      … and I’m afraid of you.

    • Dave on 07.25.2012 at 11:30 am

      where is the “Like ” button, I would Dance to press it?

  • Samantha Cali on 07.25.2012 at 11:12 am

    The candidates aren’t talking about gun control because gun control is not the issue here. The issue is that a crazy man wanted to kill and he would a found a way to do that whether he had all of those guns or not. So please, BU, stop trying to turn this into some sort of political issue and focus on the fact that people died.

  • fromEurope on 07.25.2012 at 11:33 am

    I just move to the US from Europe last April. I am so shocked to read the comments of the anti gun control people, even for military weapons. I knew there was something with guns here, but to actually read those arguments…
    How can you objectively argue that everyone should be able to freely buy military weapons?

    • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 12:07 pm

      Because the numbers prove concealed carry reduces crime?

    • Anonymous on 07.25.2012 at 3:43 pm

      Because we do not exist at the leisure of our government, our government exists at the leisure of its people.

  • Alumnus on 07.25.2012 at 12:14 pm

    Now this is exactly the sort of conversations we should have been having all along, long before these atrocities happen. The problem is that both sides are so polarized and so convinced that they’re correct that the topic becomes a political suicide for any politician wishing to engage it, and a consensus impossibility when a diverse set of opinions sit to discuss it.

    What is the bottom line objective? Is it to preserve the constitution? Is it freedom? Is it access to security? to entertainment?

    How about using the university and it’s several platforms to discuss these topics independently? My hunch is that there is consensus in several of these ideas if discussed separately and independently. The discussion for hunting weapons is not the same discussion as constitutional protection, and both are very different from the discussion over handguns and personal safety. The grouping of these discussions is not only unhelpful, it is a massive complicator and makes what could be perfectly reasonable conversations impossible.

  • Leigh on 07.25.2012 at 12:26 pm

    There is a ton of misinformation coming out of the Aurora story and too many pundits are bloviating glad it is on our minds but as the age old adage warns…..be careful little ears what you hear and be careful little mouth what you say

  • Jr on 07.25.2012 at 12:27 pm

    I don’t know where to begin with this article. To say the lesat I am slightly embarrassed that BU would not only publish such a biased article but make it front page as well. While I’d like to jump into the debate over gun control, I will resist the urge as I may end up “beating a dead horse”. Instead I’ll propose an alternative question that I believe should have been addressed in the article. “Why aren’t the people of Colorado demanding more gun control?”

    I grew up mere minutes away from the site of the shooting. In fact, you can see the theater from my fathers office. As a resident, I can say that the general belief amongst Coloradans is that this massacre was committed by an individual and the blame is on him and him alone. It is not the fault of the sales associate who sold the guns. It is not the result of gun control laws being “too lax”. Holmes and Holmes alone killed those people and to shift the blame anywhere else is unacceptable.

    The truth is, Holmes would have done this regardless of any law or regulation. The munitions found in his house clearly illustrate that he was willing to break the law in order to acquire his arsenal. Suffice to say that he would have acquired the guns anyway.

    Another laughable point that was brought up numerous times throughout the article was that some guns are more deadly than others. It wouldn’t have mattered if he were carrying an AR15 (.223) an AK47 (.308) or a cheap 9mm off the street. All guns are deadly if used incorrectly and to assume that one is more deadly than the other is a clear indicator of ignorance.

    Lastly, if the people of New England want to regulate people’s constitutional rights… That’s their business. Likewise, if the people of Colorado want to maintain our rights… That is our business and we thank you not to exert your irrational fears upon our way of life.

    Ps… At roughly 1/6 the size of Colorado, Massachusetts has nearly twice as many gun related homicides every year.

    • PS on 07.25.2012 at 1:06 pm

      It’s not accurate to use land mass to compare states’ crime rates. The population of Colorado is actually smaller than that of Massachusetts.

      According to the U.S. Census Bureau:
      Massachusetts population: 6,587,536
      Colorado population: 5,116,796

    • Tom on 07.26.2012 at 2:26 pm

      Of course he would have killed people no matter what, but we shouldn’t make it easier for people to do that. Also an AR-15 that holds 100 rounds is clearly more deadly than a hand gun. The police arrived within 90 seconds, which means if he had to take the time to stop and reload, that might make a difference.

      That being said people on both sides of the argument try to say that more guns means less gun violence or less guns means less gun violence, but the truth is the data is inconclusive. Yes, CO has 4 times as many guns as MA and a lower incidence of gun fatalities, but Texas has about 8 times as many guns as MA and has a higher incidence of gun fatalities than MA. VT has more guns than MA, but a much lower incidence of gun violence.

  • Kyle on 07.25.2012 at 1:16 pm

    I am appalled and embarassed that BU would publish such obvious communist-like propaganda. This is simply a further extension of liberal values and indoctrination taking place in universities such as BU. This is more of the same from far to many professors these days, along with their other sacred values such as atheism, antichristian politics, censorship, socialism, unjustified claims of expertise and knowledge (for example, the dogmatic promotion of the theory of evolution), liberal beliefs, liberal grading, liberal bias, anti-patriotism, lack of productivity, bullying or discouraging conservative students (for example, homeschoolers), and promotion of sexual immorality.

    Here is the text of the 2nd amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” SOURCE: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html

    What part of “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED” do people not understand?!

    There is no place on earth so close-minded as the modern University. The lack of diversity of thought is unmatched anywhere on earth.

  • Carlitos Corazon on 07.25.2012 at 3:56 pm

    Well, I’m out. Kyle’s “to-the-right-of-Rush Limbaugh” statement above and Rob’s (and his fellow proponents of gun violence) rants require no argument to dismiss. The jingoistic tone and illogic of their commentary do that for us. Eventually, the Aurora shooter’s online ravings will be published and you will no doubt recognize many of the same NRA catch phrases and constitutionally warped mumbo-jumbo posted here.

    One interesting comparison: A reltively recent BU Today piece prompted a like vitriolic discussion on the benefits and/or evils of marijuana. And, just like in today’s “discussion”, it was amazing to see what people will say to preserve access to their “addiction” – be it drugs or guns.

    • Rob on 07.25.2012 at 4:24 pm

      Yes, if you don’t like what the facts and data represent, just ignore them!
      For example, the fact you misused the term “jingoistic” which relates to foreign, not domestic policy/relations. But hey, at least it sounds good! amiright?
      Illogical? the pro-gun people are the only ones dealing in fact, whereas you elect to deal with opinion. Half of you don’t even know what half the terms you use even mean, how can you have a proper debate?

      • Carlitos Corazon on 07.25.2012 at 7:59 pm

        jingoistic: fanatically patriotic; extreme nationalism; chauvinistic patriotism.

        … As you said above: “Half of you don’t even know what half the terms you use even mean, how can you have a proper debate?” The trouble is… it’s your half! And with that you’ve made my point for me: Your commentary is self-dismissive.

        In the future… and you will no doubt find yourself beaten down again… I suggest you read up on the topic first, and have a dictionary close-at-hand. And please don’t try to debate your betters. For us, its like talking to a child.

        • Rob on 07.26.2012 at 2:59 pm

          You’re leaving out the “in regards to the international stage” part of the definition.


          None of what I said is patriotic or nationalistic. You are doubly wrong.

      • Tom on 07.26.2012 at 3:20 pm

        Rob, you say “the pro-gun people are the only ones dealing in fact”. You really weakened all your other arguments with this blanket statement. In any argument there are always going to be extremists on both sides who distort the truth either intentionally to further their agenda or unintentionally because they’re ignorant, brainwashed, etc. Claiming that pro gun people are the only ones dealing in fact is clearly a distortion of the truth and makes you sound like a pro gun extremist who is not looking at the issue objectively. You say the people you argue against are biased and deal with opinion instead of facts or data, but that’s all you’ve been doing in your posts here. The facts and data about gun violence in the US is inconclusive and doesn’t represent anything. You can’t just pick and choose what data you use just to further your own agenda and call that unbiased. Changes in crime in a single city or state alone might be unrelated to gun control.

        Don’t think this means I’m agreeing with everything Carlitos said. It’s pretty unrelated, but I disagree with his implied stance on marijuana. I voted to decriminalize it in MA and I would vote to legalize it, regulate it, and tax it. Though I don’t really see what connection he’s trying to make other than opinionated people. Anyway I’m done arguing with a fanatic, there’s no point.

        • Rob on 07.27.2012 at 12:51 am

          In this thread it is the case. The anti gun folks have committed nothing but baseless ad hominem attacks all throughout the thread. I didn’t weaken anything, You are demonstrably biased in how you apply your standards.
          False, I have backed up my numerous assertions with definitions, data points, etc, as demonstrated earlier. Once again, you selectively apply your standards.

        • Rob on 07.27.2012 at 4:12 am

          In the context of this article and the discussion, it is true. The majority of the posts by the anti gun folks include little but ad honinem attacks.

          Even if what I said were totally off base, it does not in any way weaken the validity of my previous arguments.

          Once again, you do not uniformly apply your standards. You are an intellectual hypocrite.

    • Anonymous on 07.26.2012 at 3:35 am

      And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how so many people in so many countries have let dictators rise to power in the name of creating a “perfect society.” First you de-humanize your opponents, next you dismiss all intellectual discussion, and finally you decide that certain freedoms just aren’t worth protecting anymore. If the right to be secure in your life and property isn’t important, then I’m sure we could find a few more liberties we could do without, right?

  • Jeff on 07.25.2012 at 10:57 pm

    I really am disgusted by the horrible tragedy that automatically turns into a hot bed for gun control. Families are still mourning and yet hyenas are out trying push their agenda over the deaths of innocents! Let the people mourn for a little before bringing up selfish agendas no matter what side of the fence you are from. How about an article about the people who died and the heroic acts many on scene performed.
    May there families get justice and find comfort in any means possible.

  • Theo de Winter on 07.26.2012 at 8:36 am

    I am a professor of the right at Boston Universtiy. I am also an NRA Golden Eagle, a select group of that organization. The Supreme Court has upheld the NRA interpretation of the Second Amendment. Holmes could have wreaked his havoc with any number of semiautomatic hunting rifles of more powerful caliber than the one he used. No conceivable restriction curbing the ownership of such hunting rifles, which can be quickly reloaded with clips, has been proposed or enacted except for the blanket restriction for convicted felons to own or purchase any firearms.

    Wilson’s left wing rant is typically taking advantage of the Colorado massacre to air his views which would never get any traction in normal times.

    A mention was made in comments about the firearms restriction in the UK where every firearm is registered, must be secured (locked up) in the owner’s home and is regularly inspected by the local police. The inspection establishes that the firearms are still with the owner and are properly secured. It is very difficult if not impossible to get a permit to buy and own a handgun. Even so the massacre in a school in Dunblane, Scotland was carried out with a handgun. The deathtoll in Dunblane was similar to our recent ones in such cases. The UK has about one fifth of the population of the US, which suggests that on a per capita basis we are not that different from a nation which has extremely strict gun control.

    Gun control like the one in the UK will never happen in the US. Even if it did, most gun owners would not comply and nutcases like Holmes would still hit the headlines from time to time.

    • Carlitos Corazon on 07.26.2012 at 11:52 am

      And your comment is the scariest of all. And, that’s saying something considering some of NRA propaganda parroted by the mindless clones above.

      • Rob on 07.26.2012 at 3:13 pm

        When you’re ready to deal in facts, rather than ad hominem attacks, maybe you’ll actually get somewhere!

    • Rob on 07.26.2012 at 3:18 pm

      Without associating your name with mine in any way what so ever, thank you for putting your name to this. It shows there are still Professors out there interested in the truth.

  • Rob on 09.24.2012 at 10:30 am

    I know this is a late entry, but I just wanted to say that yesterday, I shot myself in the foot while practicing my quick draw. The Doc says I might lose my big toe. Just wanted to put that out there.

  • Vicky on 01.30.2013 at 5:04 pm

    This might sound a bit weird but I would go onto http://www.battlestar-galactica.bigpoint.com to practice my shooting abilities and my hand eye coordination. That really helped me while I was preparing for a real shooting range.

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