Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

America's over-the-counter gun law is really just asking for trouble

A ban on guns would not have stopped the Aurora movie massacre says the governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper.

He argues that suspect James Holmes, who was kitted out with a frighteningly large arsenal that included four powerful guns and somewhere in the region of 6,000 rounds of ammunition, would have found something else.

"He's going to know how to create a bomb. Who knows where his mind would have gone? He would have done something to create this problem." There may be some grain of truth in what Governor Hickenlooper says, but the fact remains that what made it so easy - far too easy - for one person to "create this problem" on such a horrific scale was undoubtedly the almost casual availability of guns in some states in the US.

There are stores you can walk into in America where the sort of assault weapons you associate with frontline Helmand are displayed on shelves like laptops in the electronics department.

And boxes of high velocity bullets are stacked nearby like cut-price beans in the grocery aisles. For less than £100 you can purchase (online) the permit that allows you to carry a concealed weapon.

Whatever manic episode propelled James Homes into the Aurora Cinema, it is an inescapable truth that the weaponry he carried ensured the toll of dead and injured was always going to be on a massive scale. Governor Hickenlooper, who is a member of the Democratic Party, describes Holmes as a "warped creature".

"I think of him almost as a terrorist," he adds.

You don't need a medical degree to know that the "warped" Holmes is obviously mentally ill.

That doesn't in any way diminish the horror of his crime or the suffering of his victims.

But isn't it also a bit warped, Governor, that Holmes, and God knows how many others like him, have had such easy access to such devastating weapons of mass destruction.

The man whose finger was on the trigger is in the dock.

So too should be the system that put the rifle in his hands.

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