In the wake of the slaughter at Virginia Tech in 2007, the shooting at Chardon High in Ohio this past spring, and the 2011 attack on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, in Pearce's own state, you might imagine that Pearce would be able to offer some useful perspective.
You would be imagining indeed.
In a Facebook post, since deleted, Pearce describes having just spoken with a good friend. That friend's niece, Kim, and two of her buddies were seated in the front rows of the Aurora theater when gunfire interrupted the showing of The Dark Knight Rises. "What a heartbreaking story," he notes correctly, at first.
Then his post goes off the rails:
Had someone been prepared and armed they could have stopped this "bad" man from most of the tragedy. He was two or three feet away from folks, I understand he had to stop to reload. Where were the men of Flight 93???? Someone should have stopped this man. Lives were lost because of a bad man, not because he had a weapon, but because no one was prepared to stop it. Had they been prepared to save their lives or lives of others, lives would have been saved. All that was needed is one Courages/Brave man prepared mentally or otherwise to stop this it could have been done.
Pearce has since tried to walk back his comments, but it's worth considering what he was trying to say. It wasn't bad that James E. Holmes, the shooter, had an AR-15 assault rifle. Lives weren't lost because he had a military weapon, capable of massive bursts of fire.
If you follow Pearce's logic, Holmes could have been armed with a creampuff instead of an AR-15. It wouldn't have mattered, if only someone had been prepared to intervene.
According to Mr. Pearce it wasn't bad that in this country it's easy, even for convicted felons and people with mental illness to purchase all kinds of weapons at gun shows, without undergoing any background checks. (Admittedly, Holmes was neither.) It wasn't bad that a killer could amass 6,000 rounds of ammo, and do it all on line, with phenomenal ease. It didn't even matter that the shooter was "wearing a 'ballistic helmet,' a bulletproof vest, leggings, a throat protector, a groin protector, [and] a gas mask and protective gloves."
It was the absence of one brave man, or maybe even some armed young woman, like Kim, prepared to step up, mentally. Then Holmes might have been stopped.
Given the fact that the United States is the most heavily armed nation in the industrialized world, with handguns, rifles, shotguns and assault rifles ready at hand, and given the fact that our murder rate is the highest by far in the industrialized world, it would seem to be clear that people of all political persuasions, and none at all, might want to see some kind of reasonable discussion about all the violence that surrounds us--and what we need, as a nation, to do.
It's time to stop thinking that doing nothing at all is a plan. It's time to stop focusing on anecdotal incidents. Sure, my neighbor stopped a home invasion because he had a gun. Well, so what, that cop in Pennsylvania just shot his own son coming home in the dark. Maybe Pearce is right in this one hypothetical case. If Kim, or some brave young man in that theater, had only thought to strap their very own AR-15 over a shoulder, yep, they could have returned fire.
If that dad in the third row, seated between his two teenage daughters, had only thought to wear his own body armor and helmet and carry six pistols along when he went to the movies to relax with his loved ones, yeah. He could have shot it out.
OR WE COULD TRY TO BE MATURE and ask ourselves what do the statistics below prove and what do we do to try to cut down on this country's incredible murder rate? Here are the results, lowest (best) to highest (worst), for thirty-two member-countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development:
MURDERS PER 100,000 IN POPULATION
- New Zealand
- Northern Ireland
- Czech Republic
- South Korea
- UNITED STATES
We're not just last, either, in murder rates. We're dead last by six feet and a mile. The Netherlands falls to tenth place on this list with one murder per 100,000 in population.
The Czech Republic and Ireland rank close to the bottom with two murders.
Finland lands in 31st with 2.5 murders.
The United States ranks at the bottom of the Marianas Trench with 5.2 murders for every 100,000 people.
AND IT'S NOT JUST BECAUSE there were no "brave" or "courageous" men in the Aurora theater last Friday night.