Littwin: On the Colorado Springs open-carry killing

What do you do if you see a neighbor walking down the street carrying a rifle, looking, well, distraught?

You don’t know his name, but you’ve seen him more than a few times and he looks somehow different. Plus, he’s carrying a rifle in broad daylight and you think you ought to report that to someone.

If you call 911, as Naomi Bettis did, this is what you’d hear from the Colorado Springs dispatcher, according to Bettis: That Colorado, like the great majority of states, has an open-carry law that allows even distraught-looking people to walk down the street cradling an AR-15, unless, that is, they start to do something illegal with the gun. (The law is different in Denver, but that’s another story.)

The Colorado Springs police know the law because a few years ago they arrested a man for open-carrying in a park, which used to be illegal, but not since 2003. The man sued, and the city settled for $23,500.

And so, the law was explained to the concerned caller. The distraught-looking man with the gun had apparently done nothing wrong to that point. He hadn’t menaced anyone. He hadn’t pointed the gun at anyone. But soon after the call, 33-year-old Noah Harpham, carrying an AR-15 and a revolver, wordlessly shot and killed a man on a bicycle who, witnesses said, begged the shooter not to kill him. Harpham then calmly walked down the Colorado Springs streets near downtown until he shot and killed two more people. When the police arrived, they killed him in a shootout as dozens looked on.

It’s another mass shooting in Colorado, which, by now, can’t surprise anyone.

That the shooter had posted a mostly incoherent blog just days before about religion and mind control and asking whether his father belonged to a Satanic cult can’t surprise anyone.

That he was a recovering alcoholic who had access to guns also can’t surprise anyone.

But that it’s perfectly legal to walk down a city street carrying an AR-15? I know that I’ve got it wrong, but I keep thinking that if people knew that was legal they’d want to do something about it. Do Coloradans really want people walking with a loaded gun in plain view in their neighborhoods?

Well, it is legal. And we’ve all heard the stories, so everyone must know. And yet, I still find myself surprised every time I hear about open carry because it makes even less sense to me than guns on campus. These are laws that are on the books just because they can be.

Sometimes the stories make the news because the gun-rights people want to remind us that they can take their guns to, say, Starbucks. There was that Obama rally in Phoenix where the men walked outside with their guns as if to say, well, you know what they were saying. And, of course, there was the man at the Atlanta airport who carried a semi-automatic rifle because he could. Asked why he had the gun, he said he had it for protection — from the government. Cops at the airport had, in fact, questioned him, but it was all perfectly legal in Georgia so long as he stayed away from those places under TSA control.

In the predictable parts of the blogosphere, they’re now asking whether the open-carry laws possibly prevented police from checking on the shooter before he had the chance to kill anyone. Of course, we don’t know yet what the cops did. We do know what the killer did.

Naomi Bettis, the woman who called 911 before the shootings, told The Denver Post that the gunman “did have a distraught look on his face. It looked like he had a rough couple of days or so.”

And then she heard the confrontation between Harpham and the cyclist, 35-year-old Andrew Myers, who called out, according to Bettis, “Don’t shoot me. Don’t shoot me.”

It must have been shocking to those who saw it, but it can’t be shocking to anyone else.  After the Umpqua Community College shootings, we read, via Shooting Tracker, that there had been a mass shooting — meaning an event in which four or more people are injured – in every week of the Obama presidency. And that didn’t seem to shock anyone either.

At the time, Obama had answered those who would say he was politicizing the Oregon massacre by saying it should be politicized, saying it’s a political decision we make to allow these shootings to happen every few months.

That was a month ago. The Colorado Springs killings didn’t happen in a movie theater or on a college campus or involve first-graders. They didn’t happen on a military base or in a high school. They happened as a killer walked down city streets with a loaded gun, in the same city where a state senator had been recalled for helping to pass, in the aftermath of Aurora, a few sensible gun laws.

 

Photo credit: Lars Plougmann, Creative Commons, Flickr

8 COMMENTS

  1. Those “sensible gun laws” would have done nothing to prevent this shooting. If the man looked distraught and the woman told the police/911 that, then the police then had reasonable suspicion to detain him. If they did not then this was a failure of the police.
    26 people were shot (two died) in Chicago last weekend. Why didn’t their gun laws prevent that?

    “There was that Obama rally in Phoenix where the men walked outside with their guns as if to say, well, you know what they were saying.”
    No I don’t. I do recall the media censoring out the black man who was open carrying that day because it did not fit their neo-Marxist agenda.

    Your editorial is absurd and demonstrates that LIBERALISM IS A MENTAL DISORDER.

  2. Here’s the first problem with your argument. First, by your reasoning, we should eliminate all the laws because criminals don’t obey laws. Second criminals are by definition people who break laws, so if there is no law there is no criminal. Third, which other laws do you think we should do away with because people don’t follow them? Burglary? Murder? Speed limits? Speaking of mental disorders, seek help.

  3. That is a tough one.
    Perhaps one of the concealed carry holders with a weapon should have followed him to be sure he wasn’t going to kill someone.

    Or maybe a policeman should have.

    I met a guy at Garbanzos the other day, open carrying a pistol on his hip.
    I asked him if he was a detective and he said no, a divorce attorney.
    I told him I didn’t appreciate him doing open carry, that I found it troublesome and unnecessary. His ego as a big old divorce attorney wouldn’t let him think.

    There are jerks everywhere.

    The situation in the
    Springs, when reported, becomes the responsibility of the police to monitor and protect.

    Good article.

  4. Randy, he was a jerk because you’re a jerk? You evaluated him as having a big ego because? Are you right? I believe you’re troublesome and unnecessary–and you were the minority in Garbanzo’s because nobody else was concerned… Were they? grow up.

  5. Excellent article. I’m amazed at the moronic responses that try to justify open carry. The NRA is supported by gun manufacturers that would like everyone to own multiple firearms. So they argue that if everyone is armed that no one will get hurt. So a minor incident turns into a reactive chain reaction of shooter sending lead crisis crossing public spaces and everyone ends up wounded or dead. There are responsible gun owners. There are more gun owners that think packing overcomes their personal fears and insecurities. The latter are a very dangerous group supported by NRA politics and its lobbyists on behalf of gun manufacturers.

  6. Excellent article. I’m amazed at the moronic responses that try to justify open carry. The NRA is supported by gun manufacturers that would like everyone to own multiple firearms. So they argue that if everyone is armed that no one will get hurt. So a minor incident turns into a reactive chain reaction of multiple shooters sending lead crisis crossing public spaces and many end up wounded or dead. There are responsible gun owners. There are many gun owners that think packing overcomes their personal fears and insecurities. The latter are a very dangerous group supported by NRA politics and its lobbyists on behalf of gun manufacturers.

  7. Ah, yes, all it would take–at least according to Mr. Littwin–is a “few sensible gun laws” It would be helpful if Mr. Littwin mentioned what those “few sensible gun laws” are and whether they would have prevented tragedies like Roseburg.

    This from Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, author, political commentator, and physician Dr. Charles Krauthammer:

    “Within hours (after the Roseburg massacre)President Obama takes to the microphones to furiously denounce the National Rifle Association and its ilk for resisting “common-sense gun-safety laws.” His harangue is totally sincere, totally knee-jerk and totally pointless. At the time he delivers it, he — and we — know practically nothing about the shooter, nothing about the weapons, nothing about how they were obtained.

    Nor does Obama propose any legislation. He knows none would pass. But the deeper truth is that it would have made no difference. Does anyone really believe that the (alleged) gun-show loophole had anything to do with Roseburg? Universal background checks sound wonderful. But Oregon already has one. The Roseburg shooter and his mother obtained every one of their guns legally.”

    And there’s this from the Daily Beast:

    “(Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence) cited Oregon, which in May of this year expanded background checks on all private gun sales, including transactions on the Internet. Oregon is one of 18 states so far to expand Brady background checks, and ballot initiatives in Nevada and Maine are likely to win approval next year despite opposition from the gun lobby. “It’s easier to bully politicians than to defeat ballot initiatives,” says Gross. Sadly, the new Oregon law did not prevent the shooting at Roseburg…..”

    But there’s a reason Mr. Littwin avoids outlining what he considers to be a “few sensible gun laws”: His interest in gun violence is only as an issue he hopes will further his left-of-everything politics. He is highly selective in the gun violence events he comments on and even more selective on the facts he reports.

    For example, he has never written a column for the Colorado Independent about gangs and gun violence despite the fact that the numbers killed by gangs dwarfs those killed in mass shootings. And, again today, he fails to mention the link between mental health and mass shootings.

    But there are other facts he avoids/ignores when commenting on mass shootings.

    This from the New York Times on the shootings at Roseburg:

    “Are you a Christian?’ (the gunman) would ask them,” Stacy Boylan, father of Anastasia Boylan, 18, told CNN. “‘And if you’re a Christian, stand up.’ And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second.’ And then he shot and killed them, and then he kept going down the line doing this to people.”

    Incredibly, Mr. Littwin failed to mention this in his Roseburg column. Would he have failed to mention it had the gunman asked if they were Muslim? Would he have failed to mention it had the gunman asked if they were Jewish?

    The answers are no and hell no, respectively.

    And is gun control really Mr. Littwin’s objective or is he after something far bigger?

    There’s this from the left-leaning Vox.com written by Dylan Matthews:

    “But let’s be clear about precisely what kind of (political) choice this is. Congress’s decision not to pass background checks is not what’s keeping the US from European gun violence levels. The expiration of the assault weapons ban is not behind the gap. What’s behind the gap, plenty of research indicates, is that Americans have more guns. The statistics are mind-blowing: America has 4.4 percent of the world’s population but almost half of its civilian-owned guns.

    Realistically, a gun control plan that has any hope of getting us down to European levels of violence is going to mean taking a huge number of guns away from a huge number of gun owners.”

    Although it’s highly unlikely Mr. Littwin will answer these questions I’ll ask them anyway:

    Does Mr. Littwin agree with Mr. Matthews assessment on what will be required to reduce gun violence in America?

    Is Mr. Littwin advocating gun control or gun confiscation?

    And if Mr. Littwin is really as interested in politicizing guns as he claims to be, New York’s Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo has a suggestion.

    He, like President Obama, believes gun control should be politicized and has suggested that Congressional Democrats shutdown the government if the gun control issue is not resolved.

    What does the risk-averse Mr. Littwin think about that?

    I don’t expect any answers from Mr. Littwin because that would require courage, a word he’d have to look up in the dictionary.

    =======================================

    Courage enlarges, cowardice diminishes resources. In desperate straits the fears of the timid aggravate the dangers that imperil the brave. – Christian Nestell Bovee

    “The resistance of liberals in the media to new ideas was enormous. Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true! Liberalism has sadly become a knee-jerk ideology, with people barricaded in their comfortable little cells. They think that their views are the only rational ones, and everyone else is not only evil but financed by the Koch brothers. It’s so simplistic!” – Camille Paglia Salon

    “I support anyone’s right to be who they want to be. My question is: to
    what extent do I have to participate in your self-image?” – Dave Chappelle

    “This new Dream, seeking revolutionary change in how America works, is not only impossible, but based on the faulty assumption that black Americans are the world’s first group who can only excel under ideal conditions. We are perhaps the first people on earth taught to consider it insulting when someone suggests we try to cope with the system as it is—even when that person is black, or even the President.” – John McWhorter, Daily Beast

    “..Bernie(Sanders)is the most benign of summer flings.” Mike Littwin

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    1.Folds of Honor
    Veterans Day – November 11, 2015

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.