Aurora's Message about Guns in America
Last night a young man killed more than a dozen people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. News reports indicate that he was armed with a military-style assault rifle, a shotgun and handguns.
One of the most terrible things about this tragedy is just how unsurprising it is. Our country has become inured to the constant catastrophe of gun violence, and even mass murder has become appallingly familiar. Aurora will be just another place name suffused with new meaning, to add to Tuscon, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and on and on and on.
But at least these large-scale massacres get some level of attention in our national conversation. Not so with the steady stream of gun-related violence that goes on day after day. Here's a sample of gun violence from eight days in Minneapolis:
- Tuesday the 10th: Two young men were shot at on the street, likely due to their sexual orientation.
- Wednesday the 11th: Police arrested a man who fired a gun four times from his car - the gun was unlicensed.
- Friday the 13th: A man was shot in the calf. Shots were fired into another man's house. A man pointed a shotgun at three kids because their dog was barking at his dog.
- Saturday the 14th: A young woman was shot to death in her home in North Minneapolis. A young man threatened another young man with a handgun at a party. A group of youths robbed two people at gunpoint outside of a convenience store.
- Sunday the 15th: A young man was assaulted and shot at in a gang-related incident. A man pointed a gun at some youths near his car while shouting racial slurs.
- Wednesday the 18th: Two men were shot in an apartment near 38th and Chicago. One died.
In recent weeks I've heard about many other similar incidents. A man fired multiple rounds at another in South Minneapolis in broad daylight. An inebriated man accidentally fired a handgun through the wall into his neighbor's apartment, thankfully missing her.
We're awash in guns, and we have to do something about it.
I'm with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. We need action at all levels - local, state and national - to address this crisis. The people should put pressure on elected officials and candidates at all levels.
I'm sure that the NRA will be gearing up to fight any new, sensible controls on handguns and military-style rifles, but it's time to take them on. They stymied the sensible controls that Colorado lawmakers tried to put in place after Columbine, and now there's a fresh tragedy only 30 miles away from Littleton that they should be held accountable for. They have prevented the assault weapons ban from being reauthorized, allowing guns just like the one used in Aurora onto the streets. It's time that more politicians had the courage to demand that the NRA stop abetting the murder of thousands of Americans every year by opposing any and every effort to prevent gun violence.
Police Chief Dolan has described an idea for a voluntary registration system for handguns. That is a tiny first step, but we should take it. We should also pass a local law requiring that people who have a gun lost or stolen report that loss or theft to the police. We should also demand that the State Legislature rescind its 1985 limitation on local governments' ability to regulate handguns. It is time for Minneapolis to be allowed to create better gun control laws.
The shooting must stop.