Baumhower: The Dark Rhetoric RisesWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | firstname.lastname@example.org
James Holmes, a 24-year-old with recently dyed red hair, suited up like any other SWAT member would. He put on a bulletproof ballistic vest and leggings, a throat and groin protector and ballistic gloves. Holmes then grabbed his assault rifle, his 12-gauge shotgun and two semi-automatic pistols and ventured to a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” at a theater in Aurora, Colo. Holmes allegedly entered the back door of Theater 9 and proceeded to shoot 70 people, 12 fatally. He was caught by Aurora police moments later, guns in hand, without incident.
My media background and foundation is based in news talk radio. I was the executive producer of two shows on WSPD for three years, for both Mark Standriff and Scott Sloan, later moving to Cincinnati to produce on 700 WLW, one of the biggest news talk stations in the country. Tragedies like the Batman shooting drive news talk ratings with a simple formula. Tragedies = Gun Debate = Ratings. In retrospect, those were the easiest shows to produce — find gun rights advocates, book them onto the show and ask these questions: “Who is going to try to take our guns first?” and “What new laws should gun owners expect as a result of the shootings?”
This formula still works and to this day I am ashamed I was a part of it.
News talk radio targets 44- to 64-year-old males who are conservative, churchgoing, gun-owning, Constitution-loving men who love their money, politics and country. In Toledo, they are also probusiness and almost always antiunion. When I worked at WSPD, I drank the Kool-Aid. I was a 25-year-old “conservative” who made $25,000 a year, rarely went to church, owned no guns and was from a union family. I was more confused than a gay son of a minister. I eventually left news talk radio for good, because I was tired — tired of reading tragic news, tired of the same conversations reworked daily, but mainly tired of tasting the Kool-Aid.
As early as the morning of July 20, with warm bodies still on the floor of the movie theater in Aurora, conservative talk show hosts began teasing the upcoming rhetoric of the gun debate just as I did years before, although this time I am a little more enlightened.
It appears Holmes had no criminal record, bought his numerous guns legally and, until he pulled the trigger the first time, was a law-abiding gun owner. Talk shows hosts are arguing no new gun laws are needed, the “liberal media” is now on a witch hunt for assault rifles and the “bread theory” is in full effect. The “bread theory” says if you give a slice away today, a slice away tomorrow, etc., eventually you’ll give away the whole loaf. Conservative radio hosts will also remind their audience that if guns were banned today, only “law-abiding citizens” would hand their guns over, leaving criminals the only ones armed with anarchy at hand. You will also hear radio’s finest contend that if there were no guns today, people would still find ways to kill each other; we always have and we always will. There will always be evil. The truth is, if assault rifles were banned, the extent of damage during the Aurora massacre would be limited. Yes, an evil Holmes could have walked into the back of that movie theater loaded with knives, rocks and fists, but even if he were a Judo master with ninja abilities, there would have been far fewer casualties.
The world is not the same place it was when the Second Amendment was penned. The guns have evolved and the laws protecting our rights to be gun owners should evolve to reflect those changes. Assault rifles in the hands of anyone other than military and police should be outlawed.
There will always be evil in this world, but the evil doesn’t always have to be armed with assault rifles.