As some of my readers - all three of you - should know by now, I am currently living in the Philippines. As much as I always wish I were home, I am having difficulty imagining what it must be like to be there right now, a week after the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado.
Aurora, a suburb on the east side of Denver, was my home, off an on, for twenty-five years. I even went to the same movie theater, next to Aurora Mall, on several occasions. The last film I saw there was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on Christmas Day, 2000. Last Wednesday, I learned something that, at first, I thought was incredible: applications for gun purchases in Colorado have spiked 43% since the shootings.
While most observers might believe that such incidents, which seem to be proliferating, will give the American National Rifle Association, the powerful Washington lobbyists, a massive headache, I think that the NRA couldn't have asked for a better prospect for America.
The last opportunity the American government had to at least propose new gun control legislation was after the shootings in Tucson, Arizona in January 2011, in which six people were killed and U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords survived being shot through the head. The newly elected Tea Party members of Congress, however, vowed to block any legislation tampering with the Second Amendment to the Constitution. And less than four months from our next election day, the issue won't be addressed substantively any time soon.
Clearly, without laws in place that would protect them from being killed by their unhinged fellow citizens, Americans can no longer depend on a reasonable expectation that they can go anywhere - the mall, a grocery store, a restaurant, a movie theater - without potentially being shot at. And since the law can't protect them, their only recourse is to protect themselves.
It's a waste of time trying to make Second Amendment advocates understand that the age in which the Constitution was drafted is radically different from our own age, and that the Second Amendment, which meant a great deal right after our war of independence, means very little today, precisely because a gun - be it a rifle, shotgun, or handgun - is such a pitiful defense against a tank, a bomber plane, or a weapon of mass destruction. If the U.S. were ever invaded by a foreign power and ordinary citizens owning guns tried to fight, they would be massacred.
So it's another early Christmas for the NRA. Every time there is a mass shooting in America, in the absence of any political action that might make it harder for a wacko to get his hands on all the guns and ammo he needs, perfectly legally, there is no other choice for many Americans but to exercise their Second Amendment right to "bear arms". Prisoners of their own government, which is allowing a political interest group to endanger their lives, Americans, who have seen too many shoot-'em-up movies (including the ultimate, called Shoot 'Em Up) will have to gird their loins before going to work, or to the convenience store, or a bar, or a movie theater - especially if the movie is a violent one. The NRA couldn't have planned it better.