Hours after 12 people were killed and 58 more were wounded in an Aurora, Colorado the debate quickly turned to an age old one: Gun control versus the right to carry firearms.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, appearing on a radio station soon after the tragedy said, "Soothing words are nice, but maybe 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 this is obviously a problem across the country. And everybody always says, ‘Isn't it tragic?'"
On the opposite end of the spectrum, former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce took to Facebook, writing, "Where were the men of flight 93??? Someone should have stopped this man."
Pearce openly wished someone had brought their gun with them to the theater to stop this heinous act. It's an understandable sentiment.
But, it's highly unrealistic. While Bloomberg and Pearce's points are worthy of debate, they aren't today. They aren't because they are both using tragedy to prove they are right.
It's really easy to say this tragedy could have been prevented. None of the people saying this were there in that theater. Bloomberg thinks laws could have prevented it. He's basically saying if we pass these laws, this won't happen again.
How does that make the victim's families feel? Keep in mind, this wasn't a spur-of-the-moment decision. The police said the shooter has been planning this attack for months. A law banning the purchase of an assault weapon wouldn't have stopped him.
On the other side, even if someone had carried a firearm into the theater, there is no guarantee they could have stopped the shooter. It was dark in the theater and he was decked out in full body armor, looking like he was a member of the SWAT team. The shooter threw smoke grenades, which leads to further disorientation, on top of 150 or more panicked people trying to react to a situation hardly anyone on Earth is trained for.
Pearce would like to think more guns in the theater would have stopped this before it got started. But, reality is never that simple. Despite their opposite views, Bloomberg and Pearce have a couple of things in common. First, they both believe in black in white. That's fine except for the fact most of the time reality operates in the gray.
The second thing both politicians have in common is using tragedy to push their beliefs, which really makes this tragedy about them. Was it lost on both of them the sheer impact this tragedy had on the town of Aurora? Obviously it was because both Bloomberg and Pearce found it more important to advance their own agendas than to mourn the victims and the wounded. There's plenty of time and plenty of places to have debates on guns. Those debates should be focused on their merits and never centered around tragedies.
Rob Hunter is a regular part of the Bruce St. James show on News/Talk 92.3 KTAR. He also co-hosts Rob & Mark, Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.