Family members of the victims of the Century 16 theater shooting remember their loved ones during a vigil at the Aurora Municipal Center campus in Aurora, Colo. Sunday, July 22, 2012. 12 people were killed and 58 were injured in a shooting during an early Friday premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises." (AP Photo/The Denver Post, AAron Ontiveroz, Pool)

Family members of the victims of the Century 16 theater shooting remember their loved ones during a vigil at the Aurora Municipal Center campus in Aurora, Colo. Sunday, July 22, 2012. 12 people were killed and 58 were injured in a shooting during an early Friday premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises.” (AP Photo/The Denver Post, AAron Ontiveroz, Pool)

Opinion: Latinos may lead the way to gun control in the future

After suspect James Holmes blasted his way through the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, our collective response felt uncomfortably familiar.  First, we were shocked by the news.  We were stunned that this happened in a safe place.  We wondered about the gunman’s motives, and felt sympathy for the victims and their families.  We all know how to respond to such horrific events because we have been through the experience over and over again.

It is a ritual scenario of grieving.  Columbine.  Virginia Tech.  Ft. Hood.  Tucson.  And now Aurora, Colorado, where 12 died and 58 were injured at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight.”

The next part of this pattern is the response from our leaders.  Initially, politicians resist politicizing a tragedy.  Then they issue a noncommittal statement of sympathy, because they are either beholden to or cowed by the National Rifle Association.  And so our country will eventually move on and begin to heal… until the next mass shooting.

This continuing leadership void is grossly irresponsible.  For too long, our national politicians have avoided any substantive discussion of gun control.  New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg got it right when he declared, “Soothing words are nice, but it’s time the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about it, because it’s obviously a problem for the country.”

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have been fairly quiet on gun control.  In 2008, candidate Obama supported a reinstatement of a ban on assault weapons that ended in 2004, but he has not taken action to renew it.  Romney does not “believe in new laws restricting gun ownership and gun use.”  However, as Massachusetts Governor, he signed the first state ban on assault weapons like the AR-15, which Holmes used in Aurora.

While our political leaders worry about getting on the wrong side of gun control debate, Latinos are very progressive on the issue.  An April report by the Pew Center found that Latinos are more likely to favor strict gun control laws that either whites or African-Americans.  Similarly, a 2011 poll done by the bipartisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition found that 86 percent of Hispanic voters support requiring background checks on all gun sales.  Sixty-nine percent believe the laws governing the sale of guns should be stronger.  Perhaps in the future, as our numbers continue to grow, Hispanics will demand laws to limit the possibility of senseless gun violence.

Yes, the Second Amendment guarantees all Americans the right to have and bear arms.  But let’s take a look at its actual words: “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.”  The key words here are “well regulated.”  Our founding fathers clearly recognized that there might be a need for regulation of citizens and their firearms.

A good starting point would be to revive the ban on assault weapons.  No one needs a semi-automatic for hunting, self-defense, or to protect their home.  These are weapons designed for war.  They are the weapons of choice for drug cartels and traffickers throughout Latin America, and they come from the U.S.  If Holmes had not had an AR-15 assault rifle, surely we would not have seen so many casualties in Aurora.

Right now, Americans must call upon Congress and our candidates to fully discuss gun control.  A national conversation about the role of guns in our society is overdue.  If we don’t have it now, we are doomed to slip back into the cycle of tragedy, shock, grief, and moving on.  And that would be the most pointless, senseless outcome of all.

Opinion: Latinos may lead the way to gun control in the future raulreyescrop politics NBC Latino News

Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and member of the USA Today Board of Contributors.

Comments

  1. BHirsh says:

    Not gonna happen.

    Raul. If anyone tries to eliminate Americans’ natural right to arms, there will be a war. I will presume, being a gentleman, that you are aware of the “Shot Heard ‘Round The World”, the beginning of the American Revolution. Do you know what triggered this event?

    The British coming to take Americans’ guns.

    It didn’t happen then, and it won’t happen now. We fought then, and we will fight again.

  2. Liborio says:

    Raul, you are somewhat naive. Dictator and tyrant Fidel Castro posed this question to the Cuban people in 1961, ?Armas para que?, Armas for what? Well, we do know what. If you are unarmed you are defenseless against a tyrannical government. Just ask 80 million Chinese under Mao; 25 million under Stalin and Lenin; six million Jews under Hitler; additional millions under Hitler; one million under Castro; one million under Pol Pot, plus countless others under other tin-pot dictators. Mexico was a one-party dictatorship for most of the 20th century, a place where corruption and government recklessness crippled an entire society. In Mexico only the police, military and criminals have firearms and you cannot distinguish them from one another.

  3. giving the percent of crime the illegals commit I can see them not wanting armed citizens

  4. Perfectly understandable. Gun-control works so well in Mexico, why not do it here too?

  5. John says:

    Mr. Reyes – Your premise is fatally flawed. You state ” We were stunned that this happened in a safe place.” The problem is, that movie theater was not a safe place. It was a place were firearms were banned, and where people swaddled themselves in the warm blanket of promised government protection in order to _feel_ safe. Being safe and feeling safe are different, and most people don’t want to take the responsibility necessary to actually be safe. Instead they substitute the false promise of others to protect them. Whether it’s flimsy plastic signs, metal detectors and purple gloved nannies at their courthouse, or police officers who have no legal obligation to help any person patrolling their streets.

    Even the “Assault weapons ban” that gun control advocates fantasize about would have changed NOTHING. That ban limited a number of cosmetic (read: non-related to function) features on firearms. The AR15 (and AK-47, etc.) was available every day of the assault weapons ban, bought new, by anyone who wanted one. Again – this is a symptom of people who, like a three-year-old, want a band-aid put on a bruise because it makes it ‘feel better.’ You don’t want real solutions which involve extreme, unforgiving sanctions against every single perpetrator of violent crime.

    After all, when it comes to punishing criminals (you know, the people who commit gun violence, not people who peaceably own firearms because they take safety seriously) the liberal habit is to follow the logical chain of causation back so far as to dissolve individual responsibility into some sort of societal blame and provide a fig leaf of deniability for lawless actions.

    You want solutions? Try, convict, and execute Holmes promptly. Expedite his appeals. Vote out of office any State judge who delays the proceedings. Vote out of office any District Attorney who agrees to a continuance. Encourage Congress to pass legislation time limiting Federal Judges on the time they take to schedule a hearing and enter judgement on Habeas applications and appeals therefrom. Execute him promptly, but with little fanfare. Don’t report on his reasoning. Don’t release private documents to the public on his thoughts. Ensure that the message of these acts is swift, certain justice without a platform for any message.

    These things will never happen though, because the only winners from mass shootings are those, like you, who need the blood of innocents as an ingredient to your witches’ brew to trample the God-given, inalienable human right of defense of self against those who would take one’s life, or one’s liberty.

  6. Greg in CA says:

    Typical ‘liberal speak’ coming from an attorney no less! Look Reyes, it ‘aint happening, so please stop typing such vitriol. Why don’t you go look at our immigration laws already on the books, that aren’t broken and worse, not being enforced and do a story on that? And while you’re at it, please explain ‘why’ about 25 American CITIZENS lose their lives to ILLEGAL ALIENS each and e very day. Or is easier to pull the ole ‘the entire country needs to have gun-control’ story out of your hat?

  7. Leigh says:

    An AR-15 is not an Assault Rifle. An assault rifle by definition is fully-automatic. You are mistaking fully automatic weapons, which are needed for war, with self loading rifles, which are rarely used, except in some sniper rifles, these days. As for the need for semi-automatic for hunting… you try taking down a large mob of pigs thats destroying your property with a bolt action and see how many you get, versus a semi-auto. As for home and self defence, are you that good at shooting you can hit first time, because I can tell you, working a bolt action or even a pump action is not helpful at such times when a quick follow up might be needed.

    To see how successful hispanic gun control is, lets look to Mexico. Enough said.

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