Viewpoint: Movies don’t kill people, guns kill people

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The Dark Knight ReturnsLike the country, the President, the state of Colorado and geek-communities everywhere, my heart goes out to the victims and the families of the Aurora Dark Knight Rises theater shootings. I can only imagine the horror these poor fans experienced during what was supposed to have been an exciting evening of entertainment that I’m sure they had anxiously been awaiting for the past two years.

God only knows why these poor souls were destined to collide with this madman on this night at this particular movie, but you know that right-wing politicians and their conservative-minded psychologists are already gearing up to blame the violence in films, comics and video games for inspiring this tragedy, all the while ignoring the real problem.

The simple fact is that the reason those people were killed and injured in that theater is because we allow any insane person walking the street easy access to guns in this country, not because of any violence portrayed in a Batman movie or comic book. Batman doesn’t use a gun, and this is even emphasized more than once in this new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.

Furthermore, the hero in this movie fights against just the type of crime and tragedy that occurred in that theater. So let’s put the blame where it should belong, on the conscious of every ‘they’ll take my gun when they pry it from my cold dead fingers’ nut-case out there.

The Dark Knight ReturnsI’m so tired of the mantra, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Well, guess what? It’s people with guns that kill people and if you can’t make that connection, then you should not be permitted to carry a gun. Guns are made to kill, comics and movies are not, but it amazes me that the people who want to regulate the arts and free speech are the same ones who fully embrace the right to have an arsenal in their home. It’s okay to have 20 guns in your closet, just don’t make a movie where someone is using one.

Then there’s the old favorite, “If guns are outlawed, then only outlaws will have guns.” First off, outlaws already have guns. So you having yours, so you can shoot at beer cans out on the back 40, didn’t prevent the outlaws from getting theirs did it? And just take a look at the recent George Zimmerman fiasco to see where toting a gun for protection gets you – nothing good will come from it.

The right to bear arms from the Second Amendment was written at the same time that the government also allowed slavery in this country; and while I realize that many pro-gun people are also cool with slavery, we need to realize that our country has changed since the Constitution was written. We’re not facing a tyrannical government anymore and no matter what the Limbaughs & Becks of the world tell you; the Feds are not poised to enslave you and take all of your worldly belongings – so lose the grip on your weapon and get a grip on reality.

The Dark Knight #2To quote Bruce Wayne from the new Batman film, “I’m not afraid; I’m angry!” I’m not afraid of going to the movies, I’m not afraid of getting on a plane and I’m certainly not afraid of attending some geek event where fans are wearing costumes and having fun celebrating the comics, movies and games that bring them such joy in life – and hurt no one. But, I am angry.

I’m angry at the needless loss of life, injuries and pain that those victims in Colorado are experiencing, and I am angry that this tragedy is no doubt going to focus on pop culture and everything except the killer’s access to guns, smoke bombs and explosives; and that politicians are going to continue to ignore the real problem so long as the NRA is financing their re-election campaigns.

There’s a storm coming; and I’m angry that the geek community is going to come up on the short end of it – while the real problem continues to go unresolved. Let’s make sure we focus on HOW this was able to happen, so that it never happens again.

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About the author

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Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.

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  • Really because guns don’t go shooting off by themselves? You have to take the active choice to pick up a weapon and kill another. If we take guns away, what is to stop someone from going on a stabbing spree with a kinfe, or mass killing with a bow or and axe? Should we take away all potentially dangerous items because of some sick people? No I think we need to change society. We need to bother to notice our fellow man. Notice when he or she is in distress. We need to actively be kinder and not jump on the band wagon to mock one another. If we end bullying then maybe we could end some of these peoples suffering and prevent them from ever going of the deep end in the first place.

  • Really because guns don’t go shooting off by themselves? You have to take the active choice to pick up a weapon and kill another. If we take guns away, what is to stop someone from going on a stabbing spree with a kinfe, or mass killing with a bow or and axe? Should we take away all potentially dangerous items because of some sick people? No I think we need to change society. We need to bother to notice our fellow man. Notice when he or she is in distress. We need to actively be kinder and not jump on the band wagon to mock one another. If we end bullying then maybe we could end some of these peoples suffering and prevent them from ever going of the deep end in the first place.

  • Ok its people like the author of this artical that really get on my nerves one yes people with guns can kill people but also people with a damn box cutter can hijack a plane and kill thousands of people to whats next you gonna start blaming box cutters for plane hijackings? Then the second amendment has nothing to do with crime whatsoever it is a prevention of our government taking our rights or an outside attack. Then you got to look at what happens to crime rates when a country does disarm its citizens well it goes up. Oh and the first amendment that alows you to write this article was wrote when slavery was around you going to attack it next. Without harmful intent from the people element a gun is just a chunk of wood, plastic and metal.
    Oh and you should look at Switzerland all there citizens are required to be armed they have a really low crime rate and they have never had a successful foreign attack happen to them.

    P.S. I had family right down the street from the theater I blame the guy not the guns.

  • Ok its people like the author of this artical that really get on my nerves one yes people with guns can kill people but also people with a damn box cutter can hijack a plane and kill thousands of people to whats next you gonna start blaming box cutters for plane hijackings? Then the second amendment has nothing to do with crime whatsoever it is a prevention of our government taking our rights or an outside attack. Then you got to look at what happens to crime rates when a country does disarm its citizens well it goes up. Oh and the first amendment that alows you to write this article was wrote when slavery was around you going to attack it next. Without harmful intent from the people element a gun is just a chunk of wood, plastic and metal.
    Oh and you should look at Switzerland all there citizens are required to be armed they have a really low crime rate and they have never had a successful foreign attack happen to them.

    P.S. I had family right down the street from the theater I blame the guy not the guns.

  • This has absolutely nothing to do with geek culture. The perpetrator obviously is off his rocker.

    This dude made quite a few bombs. Bomb making is already illegal (without a number of specialized licenses). Murder is also illegal. I really don’t think him not having guns would have stopped him from killing these people. In fact, had he not had guns and ONLY used the bombs he had been making, the body count would have been much higher.

    Take your collectivist anti-gun shenanigans to KoS or muckraker. This is not appropriate and nerd-culture will not, in fact, suffer as you claim.

    And if you really *really* want guns banned, take the proper steps and get the constitution amended and then molon labe. Of course, you’d be sending men with guns to take guns away from law abiding citizens, certainly logical.

  • This has absolutely nothing to do with geek culture. The perpetrator obviously is off his rocker.

    This dude made quite a few bombs. Bomb making is already illegal (without a number of specialized licenses). Murder is also illegal. I really don’t think him not having guns would have stopped him from killing these people. In fact, had he not had guns and ONLY used the bombs he had been making, the body count would have been much higher.

    Take your collectivist anti-gun shenanigans to KoS or muckraker. This is not appropriate and nerd-culture will not, in fact, suffer as you claim.

    And if you really *really* want guns banned, take the proper steps and get the constitution amended and then molon labe. Of course, you’d be sending men with guns to take guns away from law abiding citizens, certainly logical.

  • I think some are missing the connection pointed out in my opinion, that people with guns kill people. We can’t take the people out of that equation, but the guns can be removed or at least regulated. Unfortunately the gun lobby in this country will never allow that to happen, and already masks and costumes are banned from theaters (but I guarantee you can still carry a gun inside those buildings, thus making the costume ban ridiculous.) And that is the point of my opinion piece, guns will continue to go uncontrolled, but pop culture will suffer and be blamed, regulated and censored – and that is insane.

  • I think some are missing the connection pointed out in my opinion, that people with guns kill people. We can’t take the people out of that equation, but the guns can be removed or at least regulated. Unfortunately the gun lobby in this country will never allow that to happen, and already masks and costumes are banned from theaters (but I guarantee you can still carry a gun inside those buildings, thus making the costume ban ridiculous.) And that is the point of my opinion piece, guns will continue to go uncontrolled, but pop culture will suffer and be blamed, regulated and censored – and that is insane.

  • Not a single person miss took what you wrote if someone really wanted to kill someone they could stab them to death with a pencil or beat them to death with a laptop every thing is a potential weapon it’s all about intent has nothing to do with having a gun or access to a gun its whether or not you have the intent to use it on another person or not, infact its possible that if someone in the theater had a gun that was there to enjoy the movie possibly could of acted in self defense and ended the whole thing before it got as bad as it did.

  • Not a single person miss took what you wrote if someone really wanted to kill someone they could stab them to death with a pencil or beat them to death with a laptop every thing is a potential weapon it’s all about intent has nothing to do with having a gun or access to a gun its whether or not you have the intent to use it on another person or not, infact its possible that if someone in the theater had a gun that was there to enjoy the movie possibly could of acted in self defense and ended the whole thing before it got as bad as it did.

  • WOW…………ISN’T IT A COINCIDENCE THAT ANOTHER MOVIE WHO’S TRAILER JUST RECENTLY CAME OUT….”GANGSTER SQUAD”…HAD THE EXACT SAME SCENARIO AS THE COLORADO SHOOTINGS…..GUNMEN GOING INTO A MOVIE THEATER AND GUNNING DOWN DOZENS AND DOZENS OF SCREAMING, INNOCENT MOVIE GOERS ???

    WHAT A COINCIDENCE…….MOVIE TRAILER SHOWING INNOCENT MOVIE GOER’S BEING MASSACRED = INNOCENT MOVIE GOERS IN COLORADO BEING MASSACRED.

    WHERE DID THE SHOOTER COME UP WITH HIS PLANS….FROM A NEWSPAPER, A MAGAZINE………..OR COULD IT HAVE BEEN THE “GANGSTER SQUAD” MOVIE TRAILER ???

    • Leon, I approved your comment because it’s on point and you’re mostly harmless, but no further ALL-CAPS posting will be tolerated. Internet commenting, and you, have been around long enough for you to have learned the common rules of the road.

  • WOW…………ISN’T IT A COINCIDENCE THAT ANOTHER MOVIE WHO’S TRAILER JUST RECENTLY CAME OUT….”GANGSTER SQUAD”…HAD THE EXACT SAME SCENARIO AS THE COLORADO SHOOTINGS…..GUNMEN GOING INTO A MOVIE THEATER AND GUNNING DOWN DOZENS AND DOZENS OF SCREAMING, INNOCENT MOVIE GOERS ???

    WHAT A COINCIDENCE…….MOVIE TRAILER SHOWING INNOCENT MOVIE GOER’S BEING MASSACRED = INNOCENT MOVIE GOERS IN COLORADO BEING MASSACRED.

    WHERE DID THE SHOOTER COME UP WITH HIS PLANS….FROM A NEWSPAPER, A MAGAZINE………..OR COULD IT HAVE BEEN THE “GANGSTER SQUAD” MOVIE TRAILER ???

    • Leon, I approved your comment because it’s on point and you’re mostly harmless, but no further ALL-CAPS posting will be tolerated. Internet commenting, and you, have been around long enough for you to have learned the common rules of the road.

  • You are 100% correct. I live in Denver and I am so tired of being told that the only thing that we can do is pray. Not tighten the laws. No. Not make it so that you can’t buy 7000 rounds of ammo in a two month period. And who needs a semi-automatic assault rifle? Is that for hunting? None of this will be addressed. We are just going to pray. The truth is that these people love their guns more than their children. Just because someone can kill people with a bomb, or a pencil, or a box cutter does not mean we should make semi-automatic assault rifles with 100 round clips readily available just because they want to do it anyway. Yes they could kill a person with a knife. How many people how fast is the real question. I bet that in the time it took to kill twelve people with a semi-automatic assault rifle you might just be able to kill one person with a knife before you were stopped by bystanders. This sickness is in every part of our culture now. Whoever has the most money makes right, and wrong and those who are most effected are too stupid to stand up for themselves. This killer is definitely to blame, but he has had help.

  • You are 100% correct. I live in Denver and I am so tired of being told that the only thing that we can do is pray. Not tighten the laws. No. Not make it so that you can’t buy 7000 rounds of ammo in a two month period. And who needs a semi-automatic assault rifle? Is that for hunting? None of this will be addressed. We are just going to pray. The truth is that these people love their guns more than their children. Just because someone can kill people with a bomb, or a pencil, or a box cutter does not mean we should make semi-automatic assault rifles with 100 round clips readily available just because they want to do it anyway. Yes they could kill a person with a knife. How many people how fast is the real question. I bet that in the time it took to kill twelve people with a semi-automatic assault rifle you might just be able to kill one person with a knife before you were stopped by bystanders. This sickness is in every part of our culture now. Whoever has the most money makes right, and wrong and those who are most effected are too stupid to stand up for themselves. This killer is definitely to blame, but he has had help.

  • it makes me laugh when gun nuts say that people will kill using other means, this is actually untrue. guns are fast,, easy to use, very lethal and most importantly= impersonal. australia is proof that no guns equals fewer murders. a major majority of people just do not have the coldness it takes to kill someone up close without a gun.

  • it makes me laugh when gun nuts say that people will kill using other means, this is actually untrue. guns are fast,, easy to use, very lethal and most importantly= impersonal. australia is proof that no guns equals fewer murders. a major majority of people just do not have the coldness it takes to kill someone up close without a gun.

  • “mikgsxr” you are absolutely right !
    Most people who have been involved with these shooting incidents would not have had the mental strength to kill people without firearms. Some people say crackpots would use Knives, sticks, box cutters, etc. Lemme get to the box cutters in a bit, but knives seriously ??? You think it would have caused deaths of as many people in such less time with knives, are you living in denial because you just want to own a gun ?? I mean irrespective of whether congress restricts guns through gun control or not, in the short term they need to create some serious enforcement that gun vendors don’t sell SOO MANY guns to one person, these vendors don’t care what happens , they just care about their bottom line. If people really love glocks, semi automatics, AK’s, then why not join the military and use that interest for some good use, rather than allowing crazies to purchase them. When these laws were created, people protected themselves, we now have a tax payer funded police force that is one of the best in the world in terms of enforcement. COming back to the box cutter theory, are you proposing things would have been the same if everyone would have been allowed to carry guns on flights ?
    Having a device that makes it so easy to take someone’s life in such a short span of time without being exposed to the gore that other non firearms devices is precisely the reason to restrict it to citizens.

  • “mikgsxr” you are absolutely right !
    Most people who have been involved with these shooting incidents would not have had the mental strength to kill people without firearms. Some people say crackpots would use Knives, sticks, box cutters, etc. Lemme get to the box cutters in a bit, but knives seriously ??? You think it would have caused deaths of as many people in such less time with knives, are you living in denial because you just want to own a gun ?? I mean irrespective of whether congress restricts guns through gun control or not, in the short term they need to create some serious enforcement that gun vendors don’t sell SOO MANY guns to one person, these vendors don’t care what happens , they just care about their bottom line. If people really love glocks, semi automatics, AK’s, then why not join the military and use that interest for some good use, rather than allowing crazies to purchase them. When these laws were created, people protected themselves, we now have a tax payer funded police force that is one of the best in the world in terms of enforcement. COming back to the box cutter theory, are you proposing things would have been the same if everyone would have been allowed to carry guns on flights ?
    Having a device that makes it so easy to take someone’s life in such a short span of time without being exposed to the gore that other non firearms devices is precisely the reason to restrict it to citizens.

  • Do people really not understand the difference between a knife and an assault weapon? Holmes killed 12 people and injured 59 others, some of them critically. Do you seriously think he could’ve stabbed 71 people? No, of course not. He might’ve stabbed one or two before people overpowered him, and they probably would’ve survived–it usually takes multiple stab wounds to kill someone.

    Sure there will always be nutcases who want to go on killing sprees. The point is to not make it easy for them to kill large numbers of people.

  • Do people really not understand the difference between a knife and an assault weapon? Holmes killed 12 people and injured 59 others, some of them critically. Do you seriously think he could’ve stabbed 71 people? No, of course not. He might’ve stabbed one or two before people overpowered him, and they probably would’ve survived–it usually takes multiple stab wounds to kill someone.

    Sure there will always be nutcases who want to go on killing sprees. The point is to not make it easy for them to kill large numbers of people.

  • Montanan, one of the best ways to change society, as Elysapeth suggests, is to unify the pro-citizen-gun-ownership side under a public persona that promotes personal responsibility. If the quick reaction to Bob’s argument is, “No, it’s OUR RIGHT!” — what’s lost is the sensitive and understandable context on how that right transcends tragedy like this. Slavery had no sensitive and understandable context that transcended its consequences to humanity, so it’s gone now. If the Second Amendment still means SOMETHING — we just need to understand what it is, now especially in light of Aurora. Of course, if you can’t offer that sensitive and understandable context, there’s the real issue.

    Further, the panels illustrating this article emphasize the other of Bob’s motivations; while Leon deflects the issue to the “Gangster Squad” trailer, the movie in question was a Batman film, the shooter dubbed himself “the Joker,” etc. In desperation not to confront the hard issues, or to fill the 24 hour news cycle, people will seek to blame Batman and the surrounding cultures, because it’s easy. The comic culture doesn’t have a Charlton Heston to retort on its behalf. No one will look to these panels, or Batman comics like “Seduction of the Gun,” or the dozens of other times superheroes have basically told kids not to play with guns. What’s worse, the pro-citizen-gun-ownership side won’t step up to say, “Wait, it wasn’t comics — it was one maniac, remember?” They’ve never done that before, and they won’t now — so Bob is being proactive here. Just as I explained in the previous paragraph, he’s showing the other side what they need to do, explaining the meaningful context of his rights. Here’s another great Batman quote: “Think with your head, not with your fists.”

  • Montanan, one of the best ways to change society, as Elysapeth suggests, is to unify the pro-citizen-gun-ownership side under a public persona that promotes personal responsibility. If the quick reaction to Bob’s argument is, “No, it’s OUR RIGHT!” — what’s lost is the sensitive and understandable context on how that right transcends tragedy like this. Slavery had no sensitive and understandable context that transcended its consequences to humanity, so it’s gone now. If the Second Amendment still means SOMETHING — we just need to understand what it is, now especially in light of Aurora. Of course, if you can’t offer that sensitive and understandable context, there’s the real issue.

    Further, the panels illustrating this article emphasize the other of Bob’s motivations; while Leon deflects the issue to the “Gangster Squad” trailer, the movie in question was a Batman film, the shooter dubbed himself “the Joker,” etc. In desperation not to confront the hard issues, or to fill the 24 hour news cycle, people will seek to blame Batman and the surrounding cultures, because it’s easy. The comic culture doesn’t have a Charlton Heston to retort on its behalf. No one will look to these panels, or Batman comics like “Seduction of the Gun,” or the dozens of other times superheroes have basically told kids not to play with guns. What’s worse, the pro-citizen-gun-ownership side won’t step up to say, “Wait, it wasn’t comics — it was one maniac, remember?” They’ve never done that before, and they won’t now — so Bob is being proactive here. Just as I explained in the previous paragraph, he’s showing the other side what they need to do, explaining the meaningful context of his rights. Here’s another great Batman quote: “Think with your head, not with your fists.”

  • You’re aiming at a perfect world, but you’ll never get a shot off. “So that it never happens again”…sure, it would be nice, but come on, that’s a 4th wish made to an expired genie.
    Look at Switzerland, for example. They have among the highest ‘guns per owner’ of any country in the world. Their attempted murder rates with a firearm are 1 in 250,000 annually, among the lowest in the world.
    It’s folly to blame the gun or a movie or a video game. If guns didn’t exist, the killer would have themself a new murder weapon. A homemade sword, a kitchen knife, a pipe bomb filled with nails, a water heater laid on its side, a car, etc. Point is, you can’t get rid of the gun. The bad guys already have them, and continue to get them. Disarming the law-abiding citizens is a step in the wrong direction. Remember, Bob, you live in a gun totin’ state. I respect your opinion, but I don’t think you’ll get many followers ’round these parts.
    Contrary to this author’s belief, we won’t always have a Dark Knight to protect us, and that’s why we have the 2nd ammendment.

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