By now, we all know about the murderous maniac James Eagan Holmes who opened fire in a crowded showing of The Dark Knight Rises film in Aurora, Colorado.
By the time Holmes had stopped firing his weapon, 12 were dead and dozens were wounded. That attack prompted a national gun control debate, similar to the one generated after former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot at a campaign event in Arizona -- she was injured and six people were killed in that tragedy.
And now Maryland police believe they averted a tragedy that would have repeated a horror similar to the one experienced after the Aurora, Colorado, shootings. Authorities said they have arrested Neil Edwin Prescott an individual who after been fired from his job told his boss during a phone conversation that he was “a Joker” and that he planned to “blow everybody up.”
Prescott is clearly yet another man who has severe mental issues and a massive stockpile of weapons. He threatened his supervisor twice earlier in the week and even admitted that he probably shouldn’t have been making the threats over a “government phone.” Prescott told his supervisor that he was going to "load all his guns and blow everybody up." He added that he was going to "splatter the supervisor’s brains all over the parking lot."
While some people might dismiss claims like these as the rantings of someone who was furious over losing his or her job, the shootings in Colorado made it clear that Prescott should not be ignored. When police investigated, they found a cache of more than 25 firearms. Among the collection, Prescott had several semi-automatic rifles, handguns and shotguns.
The suspect also had several high-powered scopes, magazines and thousands of rounds of ammunition that were being stored in “40 large steel boxes.” The police report draws a picture of a man who not only had the intention of committing quite an act of violence, but who also had the means to do so. When authorities showed up to Prescott’s house he was wearing a t-shirt that read: “Guns don’t kill people, I do.” Prescott reportedly went quietly when police took him into custody, and the court record shows officers believe he fully intended to carry out a mass murder.
Shortly after the Holmes murder spree, there were numerous stories from both sides of the gun control debate illustrating why there was need for more -- or no need at all -- for stricter gun control laws. The usual “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” phrase was trotted out over and over. One particularly weak argument was made by former Republican majority leader Dick Armey. Armey said that had gun laws been stricter and stopped Holmes from going on his spree, “he might just as well have taken a car and driven it into a school bus.”
The fact of the matter is that had Holmes been denied the kind of gun with which he fired off hundreds of times -- and had there been stricter gun control laws in Arizona back in 2011 -- those killings would have taken fewer lives -- or avoided altogether. This conversation needs to happen, whether it makes us uncomfortable or not. There has to be a middle ground between “the right to bear arms” and “a well-regulated militia.”