The show Arrow follows the vigilante exploits of Oliver Queen. The show has done a good job of showing his character’s growth over the years. In the first season, Oliver is “rescued” from an island after 5 years. He returns home and begins a quest to kill a group of bad people who were planning an attack on a low income area of the city with the intent to rebuild it for their own profit. Like many comic book heroes, by the second season he swears not to kill anymore. The show is now on its fifth season and he has evolved into trying not to kill, but situation dictates.
The latest episode is called “Spectre of the Gun”. Oliver is now Mayor of Star City during the day and Green Arrow by night. In this episode, a man walks into City Hall and shoots the place up killing 7 people. Then the man gets away, but leaves behind one of his weapons. Instead of the gun ending up at the police department, naturally it ends up in the Arrow base to be examined. During this examination, Team Arrow starts to break up into “gun rights” and “gun control” groups. While discussing how to find the perpetrator, they mention that AR-15s can be bought anywhere and they are the most popular gun in America. That is true. The problem is, the rifle used in the shooting was an automatic rifle. The National Firearms Act of 1934, severely restricts the ownership of any automatic weapon with high taxes and registration of those firearms. So the rifle the shooter used was NOT the type of AR-15 you can buy at your local gun shop and if it had been purchased legally, it would have been registered.
During the shooting, the team member Wild Dog, pulled his own pistol and shot the gunman, but the gunman was wearing body armor. It is later brought up that Wild Dog was Dishonorably Discharged from the military and therefore could not legally buy a gun. He points out that he is still able to get one. Later in the episode it is revealed that the gunman lost his family to a mall shooter after the city council refused to pass a gun registration act. It is also revealed that the mall shooter obtained his weapons illegally and a registration would have done nothing to prevent the mall attack. I appreciate the show adding that information to the story. That was a common miscommunication between people after Newtown. He killed his own mother and stole the guns he used. No registration could prevent that. I also want to point out that the whole premise of the show is civilians illegally using weapons. If anyone should understand the futility of trying to use laws to prevent crime it should be this group of people, but some of them are missing that point.
Overall I thought the episode did a fairly decent job of covering both sides of the debate. I also appreciated the theme of not shying away from heated discussions to find answers. In the episode, they end with a “compromise” that doesn’t violate people’s rights and makes people safer. Conveniently, they don’t say what that compromise entails.
One of the issues with the gun debate is that the 2 sides are talking about different things. Gun control people see violence and want it to be stopped or at least reduced. They see statistics and body counts and news articles about how people seem to be getting mowed down by guns left and right. Restrictions seem like a common sense solution. On the other hand, gun rights people will never be persuaded by any of those things, because they are talking about rights and principles. To them, restricting guns because of how bad people use them is equivalent to restricting the rights of Japanese-Americans because of Pearl Harbor. They don’t want to be punished for another person’s actions. This disconnect guarantees that the discussion will continue for a long time. Unlike the show, we can’t just pretend a compromise exists.
I will always choose to protect people’s rights. That doesn’t mean I am not open to discussion, but know that in order to change my mind, you must convince me that people do not have a right to self-defense from both criminals and tyranny.