On Monday, the world got a look at the face of James Holmes, the gunman who slaughtered 12 people and wounded dozens more at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
Hands up! Who would step up and place a gun in this man's hands? It's a fair bet that none of us would, this based on our knowledge of what he allegedly did or indeed based on nothing more than the look on his face.
This guy is, as they say, "out there."
But of course, Holmes never had to rely on any one of us reading this editorial, or anyone else for that matter, to supply him with a gun.
All he had to do was walk into a few stores and spend a few minutes online and, presto, he was a one-man SWAT team ready for war. The transfer of the guns and ammo was automatic, and not dependant on the discretion or aid of anyone.
Above and beyond the never ending argument over gun rights and gun laws in America there is the absolutely stunning vista that is the sheer simplicity of securing guns that are more powerful than anyone would require for "home defense."
Holmes was aided, helped and enabled on his bloody way by the fact that it is not any harder to procure an assault rifle with extra large ammo clips than it is to buy a packet of cigarettes.
The ease with which an individual can buy any number
of guns, and any amount of ammunition, including the hollow point and explosive variety, does vary a bit but, in general, the
United States is one large gun shop, and becoming more so with each passing day.
And this situation is unlikely to be challenged, not by President Obama, not by Mitt Romney should he be elected president, and not by Congress, no matter which party is in the majority.
Here's this from White House spokesman Jay Carney. It was his first reaction to news of the movie theater shootings: "The president believes we need to take common-sense measures that protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans while ensuring that those who should not have guns under existing laws do not get them."
The order of Carney's statement was telling. Rush first to the defense of the Second Amendment, presumably the amendment in its broad, current, de facto and de jure form, and then following with a lame reference to "existing laws," whatever they night be.
Beyond this, before he unleashed hell on the innocent, James Holmes was not among those "who should not have guns."
The Second Amendment is pretty well set in stone though its reach has been relentlessly extended over the years by the gun lobby and gun friendly legislators.
At this point it is still illegal to carry a gun on board an aircraft unless you are an agent of law enforcement. But why bother with this restriction at all if you can, in some states, carry concealed weapons into public places including churches. Isn't it hypocritical? Or is it, perhaps, merely sanity's last line in the sand.
Above and beyond the right to bear arms, what has cone clearly into focus again is the right to bear any number of arms, and any kind. Had Holmes been armed with just his shotgun, sufficient indeed for defending any homestead, he would not have been able to kill and wound so many people. But because he had a Smith and Wesson assault rifle and a Glock, he was a much more effective killing machine.
Take just the assault rifle and enlarged ammo clips out of the equation and the next lunatic who sets out to commit a massacre (and it's only a matter of time) will be confined to committing a smaller degree of mass murder than would be the case if the assault weapon and its clips are in hand, but smaller.
We ourselves, and the legislators representing us, have in our power the ability to save future lives by simply banning assault weapons, thus rendering mass slaughter a little less, well, mass, and its planning a little less simple.
Sounds simple, doesn't it? But, sadly, we know it to be otherwise.