Guest Column: Look In The Mirror, America


By Alan Boinus


The gun lobby would have us think that last week’s tragedy in Aurora, Colo., was an aberration. Just another crazed criminal that putting controls on guns will not solve. After all, these kinds of lunatics will stop at nothing to do their evil.  Unfortunately, gun crimes like Aurora that make national news are so out-of-the-ordinary most people buy into that argument. But should we?

As the argument goes, if the gunman in Aurora didn’t have guns, he would have chosen some other means of mass killing. Really? Here was a guy armed with 6,000 rounds of ammo and protective gear. He chose guns to make some twisted point. And with all that protective gear, this guy was unwilling to go the way of a suicide bomber. No, this guy wanted to kill with guns and stick around for the aftermath.

But maybe what he really wanted was not just wanton murder, but the power to murder. Society has shown its ineptitude at allowing him and others before him get away with murder. Gun interests like the NRA want us to believe that this act by a lone crazed gunmen could not be foreseen, and thus could not have been prevented, so society is off the hook. We can all breathe easier. It’s not our fault.

But the truth is more complex. Like any follower of detective stories knows, murder is a two-part equation: motive and opportunity. In the case of gun murder, whether a homicide from one gun or carnage like Aurora, the calculus is the same. Take away the lunatic or the criminal and you take away gun murder. That goes to motive.

While the NRA and other gun advocates claim that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” they conveniently leave out the critical element of the murder equation: opportunity.  If the opportunity does not exist to commit the murder, then no murder will occur. If a criminal or a madman is locked away, there simply will not be crime.  And that goes to firearms as well because the proliferation of guns and ammo in America makes it easy to commit crime.  And ease of crime goes to opportunity. Guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 30,000 gun homicides annually. That figure is not an aberration. It is an epidemic.

“Homicide rates tend to be related to firearm ownership levels. Everything else being equal, a reduction in the percentage of households owning firearms should occasion a drop in the homicide rate,” a 1998 CDC study concluded.

But it appears that our politicians who are charged with providing public policy solutions don’t care to provide any real solutions. Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and Fox talk show host, opined last week about the Aurora incident, “We don’t have a crime problem, or a gun problem, or even a violence problem.

“What we have is a sin problem.  And since we’ve ordered God out of our schools and communities . . .  you know we really shouldn’t act so surprised when all hell breaks loose.”

In 2008, following six incidents where three or more people were gunned down, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, a staunch advocate of the NRA told ABC News, “I . . .  have to step back and say that maybe if these people had their own weapons to defend themselves, maybe some of these things wouldn’t have happened.”

Is that what we should have told those kids on their summer dates at the movies in Aurora? That they should have packed heat? Would that have saved those kids in the face of the Kevlar-suited madman?

Ultimately nobody on either side is being honest here. Not the NRA, which knows that with more gun safety measures and restrictions there would be less gun violence and less gun murder. Their truth is they don’t care how many get killed by firearms because this is the “price we pay for our freedom” so the gun minority can have unlimited access to any gun, weapon or ammunition they want.

But the other side must be honest, too. That unless one’s own child gets killed in a movie theater or is among the 30,000 who die annually from gunfire due to happenstance, they don’t care either. Certainly not enough to force our politicians to change our gun laws. That is the truth, America.  Time we own up to it.

Laguna Beach resident Alan Boinus, an entrepreneur and citizen activist, invented a gun safety device 20 years ago that received no interest from gun makers.

Share this:


  1. Alan, your naitivity has missed the main point. evil people do evil things. Timothy McVei used farm fertilzer and rented truck to kill hundreds in Oklahoma city, Osama and company used airliners to kill thousands,,, the point is, you can try and ban all ammo and guns, (which is impossible), but people will still make them, or buy them illegally.,,, bad people aren’t disuaded by mere laws from doing evil, wake-up.

  2. I hope that reasonable minds can come up with solutions rather than “give up” because the problem is a difficult one.

    So far the solutions offered as mentioned in my article have not succeeded, i.e., “prayer” and “arm” ALL our citizens(!) Nobody is saying that we can stop evil — BUT WE CAN CURTAIL EVIL. And that is not naive.

    As to the point about using airliners to kill people — that we couldn’t stop that. After 9-11, (thankfully) we learned our collective lesson. Gun advocates cannot tell me that we are not safer in the skies now as a result of measures taken after 9-11.

    I would like to hear solutions coming from “good” Americans about how we can improve on tragedies like Aurora from happening again, i.e., from semi-automatic assault weapons. After all, this is America — we should be able to tackle any problem.

  3. You are spot on. “PEOPLE WITH GUNS KILL PEOPLE” If guns were illegal it would be more difficult and expensive for deranged people to get guns. Along their quest for guns some will get stopped. How many lives would that spare? Maybe your spouse or child will be spared. Our society has to stop people with gun from killing people.

  4. Alan, while any sane person agrees with you that this is a tragedy, you allow your anti-gun bias to bypass facts. You cite his 6000 rounds of ammunition. Fine. Have you tried to lift 6000 rounds of ammunition? This is a red herring. You forgot to mention that he also had at least 30 grenades in his apartment. And fire bombs. Crazy people do crazy things Alan. That is part of the price of freedom. The media here in the US likes to cite England as an enlightened place with no gun crime. Wrong. I spend many weeks in England every year and they have gun crime and murders. Guns are illegal in Mexico. How’s that working out? Guns were illegal in Germany under Hitler….that didn’t work so well either, particularly for the Jews. We need to continue to work to stop gun crime, but as the previous poster illustrated with his Oklahoma City example, and I hope I have here, bad people will do bad things. The question is how many of our freedoms do you want to sacrifice. You also mention 30,000 gun deaths/year per the CDC. This is also a red herring. That figure includes suicides and gang/drug violence, which constitute the majority. There are thousands more Americans killed each year from accidental falls and poisoning (as in taking the wrong medication) than from guns. I’m all for trying to quell gun violence, but if you are a law abiding citizen you are more likely to be killed by an escalator, choke on a peanut or as a result of being denied medical care under our incoming medical system….far, far more likely than by a gun.

  5. Hi M.D.,

    I believe in reasoned debate, which is why I am writing on the blog – but I am considering another column to address points you and others raise. Your points are really well taken. But the problem is that everybody, gun advocates and “gun control” advocates alike need to recognize that there is a problem in the first place. From my vantage, I take umbrage with the gun advocacy side that wants the public to believe we are doing all we can do. I simply don’t buy that.

    Sure, you can nitpick that the 30,000 deaths by gun violence includes suicides and accidents, etc. THAT IS TRUE. And my mistake that I wasn’t more clear in citing statistics. But the fact is that about 12,000 deaths can be attributed to murder by guns. That is a lot and doesn’t discount the essential points made in my column. But thank you for pointing that out.

    However, just because the point is raised about accidental deaths and other deaths for all sorts of reasons doesn’t mean we can’t do something about that with better safety measures, etc. That has nothing to do with “bad things being done by bad people” — It is about having a safer environment, just like we have with seatbelt safety laws or any number of safety requirements society does to prevent “accidental” killing, etc. You bring up poison — we have laws about childproofing drug containers. Certainly that small inconvenience is a small price to pay for saving kids’ lives — which certainly can be demonstrated by these measures.

    In a reasonable society without all the histrionics, I am hoping we all can see each others’ side and come to better solutions. Thanks.


  6. You used the term “semi-automatic assault weapon”. That tells me all I need to know about your orientation. The fact your use such flawed nomenclature shows your ignorance of firearms (and don’t throw that “safety device” jive at me either, it gives you no credibility in light of what you said). You are playing that shopworn game of bait & switch by casting a simple semi-auto firearm as a machine-gun, scaring the gullible by the way a firearm looks (military clone) rather than it’s function (Just like Obama did the other day speaking in front of the anti-gun Urban League, using the “AK-47” propaganda buzzword. This from the guy who arms murderous Mexican Drug Cartels to justify a gun ban in the USA?). That dynamic is similar to racism, discriminating against someone based on the way they look. No military in the world issues semi-automatic firearms to their troops for combat, none (!). Military firearms are selective fire, hence “machine gun” capable. You may be able to fool the rubes with your talk of “reasoned debate”, but you are not fooling me or any like me. “Reasoned debate” for you means “accept my view without question”. One thing that puts a burr under the saddle of law-abiding gun owners is people who have no knowledge or flawed knowledge about firearms, (have been and) are, hell bent on writing anti-gun “laws”, and beat the drum for firearms prohibition. Literally the least qualified people to do so are the biggest advocates, and firearms “laws” and “bans” reflect that ignorance. Have you heard the story about how a certain politician had her staffers pick up a copy of “Shotgun News” and they went page by page, pointing out rifles they did not like the look of and made a list of them, which later became the rifles to be banned?. The unending attack on semi-auto firearms is a useful scam to frighten the citizens and great for raising your public profile with resultant effect on your career. Diane Feinstien, Bloomberg, Leland Yee, Chuckie Schumer, and let us not forget Clinton; all being examples of fat-cat politicians profiting by beating down legal gun owners while going soft on hardcore criminals. Look at Sacramento, where scores of meddling faux “do-gooders” are wasting time flogging hapless legal gun owners instead of working on real issues, like the budget. Doped up street criminals, gang bangers, and hot heads with poor impulse control are carrying and perpetrating without fear because they know their prey is unable to fight back in self-defense, due to politicians and District Attorney’s that will go after and lock up a law-abiding citizen armed for self defense faster and harder than career criminals like themselves (who revolve in and out of prison regularly and have no fear of it. They just get another “hot gun” when they get out and go back to “work”. Stop investing these goblins with feelings they do not have, such as regard for human life. Righteous Cops know this, the rest of the “Justice” system refuses to believe it due to their utopian worldview. Fact: There are some people that need to be locked away from society to protect it). What you and your ilk are selling is smelling, and I am not the only one who is not buying it. Not everyone out here is as stupid and easily manipulated as you hope we should be…

  7. Hi Alan,

    Thanks for putting yourself out there in writing this article. I thought I would add my thoughts and possibly take a higher view on the subject.

    I am not against firearms. I am, however, against certain types of guns, which, as you know, was expanded to include those automatic weapons some years ago. Even though I don’t carry or own one, I believe in the constitution and people having the rights to bear arms, this is the foundation of our constitution and in places like Aroura is a fundamental lifestyle.

    I would suggest this, the economy has tanked and people are getting desperate. When people are desperate and have lost everything, they LOSE IT. We are not finished with the economy down fall, in my opinion. I am not sure what is going to occur in the next 100 days leading up to the election and not going to get into the politics about what is or is not going to occur.

    I would, however, say this, I applauded you and others for voicing your opinion and for all of us living in a country that allows us to live without having someone telling us what to do (although there are some, which are trying to change this). I would suggest to you, there are other areas, which kill more people then what guns do in the USA, which do not get any attention because of politics and money. This being the medical field. Doctors and nurses KILL over 300,000 people a year in our hospitals, 10 times more than are killed by guns, and we do nothing. There is n done to the doctors, nurses or medical institutions.

    So even though I don’t fully agree with the gun policies in the USA, I do support freedom of choice and baring arms. I also believe in the government structure, but not so much in the accountability for our elected officials, but that is why it is a democracy. The gangs have increased in size by over 25% annually for the past four years, before that it was about 5%, but that is what occurs when people are out of a job and are looking for a family, someone who will take care of them.

    There will be more killings, whether it is by guns, errors in people doing their jobs or by accident, and I agree we should continue to look at each of these incidents and change where it makes sense, but do it looking at the big picture, not just focusing on one specific case.

    Be well!

  8. The weapon that the perpetrator of the Aurora shootings used was a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle, and is modeled after the Colt AR-15, which is a civilian, semiautomatic version of the M-16. It had a 100-round drum magazine and was capable of firing 50 to 60 rounds a minute. There is no attempt to bait and switch here. But all society needs to know is that 12 persons died and 58 were injured by gunfire by the use of a “non-machine gun.”

    While gun advocates harp that we need to know the difference between assault weapons and machine guns, all of us need a better job in knowing more about gun murder. Contrary to what gun advocates want us to believe, guns are the murder weapon of choice by far of murderers. Gun murder is 11,493, more than six times murders by the next means, cut/pierce/stabbings at 1,874 and more than double all other murders combined at 5,306. So what are we supposed to do about that?

    Just like one rotten apple makes it bad for the good apples, gun advocates need to take more responsibility for weapons they don’t abuse by those who abuse the same weapons. Everybody learns early on that the bad kid in class causes everybody else to be punished too. So how about we tone down the rhetoric? Instead about complaining about those who simply don’t know about firearms, firearms experts need to recognize that they have to be part of the solution if they don’t want those with “flawed knowledge about firearms” writing the anti-gun laws.

  9. Hi Alan,
    I’m coming to this late but in case you’re checking back, I wanted to share my thoughts with you on this subject.
    The people who are contesting your opinion are most likely Fox “news” watchers thus their understanding of
    the word and concept “fact” is deeply at odds with what the word truly means. It is pointless to argue “facts” with people who wouldn’t know a fact if they stepped on one.
    The gun issue is one of magnitude. Not long ago it was possible for someone to kill maybe 5 or 6 people in a minute or two. Now it is possible for someone to kill a couple of hundred people in a minute or two.
    When, because the technology has made it possible via a handheld nuclear device, to kill hundreds of thousands of people in a couple of minutes, these people will still be on board. We live in a culture which reveres death and violence.
    These gun lovers believe in the importance of being free to possess the means to kill people. They are the reason that the bible says “Thou shalt not kill” but they don’t care about that. They live in a dark and menacing world full of threats and evil on all sides when in reality, they are the evil they fear. Unfortunately, thanks to the greed of the gun manufacturers they are holding sway. This will change. How many more innocent lives will be lost before that happens is a tragedy yet to be told.

  10. Looking for better solutions? How about getting over the surprise each time some psychotic pervert commits murder & mayhem? Every time some tragedy like this occurs, the media is surprised. Surprised that someone who was “just a normal nice guy in the neighborhood” could have committed such an atrocity. Or, surprised that someone who had been acting in a bizarre manner according to neighbors or police reports wasn’t stopped before committing that atrocity. Whatever fits, they are surprised and present the story accordingly.
    Is it really surprise or just an excuse to exaggerate or magnify a headline? After all they are the “media” described in Wikipedia as “represent what the majority of media consumers are likely to encounter.” What life experience could they possibly have if they are repeatedly surprised by the fact that there are very many strange people walking about in our society?
    The problem may be their focus on “the gun” when a closer look at “the people” might do more good. Where is the surprise when the OWS perverts riot, injure and destroy property? Or any radical group representing anti-war, gay rights, women’s rights, etc.
    Granted, the majority of those people have a sincere interest in their cause and intend no violence. But a sizable fringe element is committed to violent acts and worthy of some consideration. Sizable!
    Can I recommend spending a shift with an ambulance crew some weekend evening or sitting in the emergency room of your local hospital starting at midnight on a Saturday? Psychotics, drug users and alcohol abusers are often injured and require medical attention. Medical personnel have to put up with their antics, but a media type might learn something.
    How about taking a ride with a cop working a downtown beat? Every cop knows where the crazies hang out. There are the usual alcoholics and dopers with various mental problems as well as the truly psychotic who had been such a bother to friends and family that it is not unusual for them to have a note from family in their wallet pleading that they not be contacted. Or a well-dressed individual giving counsel to the drunks one evening and a month later asleep in the gutter wearing the same dirtied clothes and a 30-day growth of beard. A well dressed, even distinguished looking gentleman so drunk he could hardly stand but insisting that he couldn’t be arrested because HE was a federal agent. Just a little research would reveal the number of police officers injured every day by these malcontents.
    The solution you seek will be found in addressing the psychotics among us, not the guns.
    As a young police officer I arrested people for murder, rape, robbery, and various assaults, sex offenses, and thievery. Upon retirement nearly 30 years later I was arresting people for those same offenses. I don’t have the solution and it should be obvious that no one has a solution.
    I do know that it seems rather simplistic to repeatedly paint an ugly face on the firearm when there are some truly ugly people out there that no one seems to be able to control.
    Gun ownership is not for everyone, but until someone figures out how to control those ugly people, I find it reasonable that a growing number of honest citizens are buying guns and seeking training.
    Ask any cop if he wasn’t a cop would he have a gun in the home…


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here