The Dark Knight came out this past weekend. As of this writing, I still haven’t seen it. And it’s driving me crazy. I’m afraid to read reviews on Google. I’ve sequestered myself in my studio apartment. Right now–as I type–theaters in cinemas across the nation are filled with men, women, children and sweaty fanboys watching Gotham’s greatest detective match wits against his most devious and cunning adversary, The Joker. All indications are that The Dark Knight should be an amazing film, and a good portion of the credit for this should be given to the source material. Batman is probably the best character in super hero comics. Not only does he have the best villains–The Joker being at the top of the list–but he also has the best back-story. Billionaire playboy by day, relentless vigilante by night–this isn’t a story that’s just familiar to comic geeks; it has become a part of the cultural lexicon. Since his first appearance in 1939, he has become a favorite for generations and has been the muse of some of comics’ great writers such as Frank Miller and Alan Moore.
Batman’s a literary icon if there ever was one, sort of like a Jay Gatsby with a bitchin’ ride. As with any awe-inspiring figure, sometimes the intricacies of their character get lost, but it’s these little details that really make them great. One of my favorite things about Batman is that despite his wealth, costume or bizarre hobby, he’s still just a man. He can’t fly, heave boulders or blast villains with eye lasers. His only weapons are his deductive reasoning, some clever gadgets and, when those fail, his fists. Also, despite being an obvious sociopath, Batman’s not a cold-blooded killer. Sure, he dons a cape and cowl and prowls the streets of Gotham so he may mete out justice upon criminals, but he’s not crazy. He believes in the justice system. A vigilante, yes, but he still believes the most hardened villain deserves his day in court. He also deplores the use of guns, and so do I, no matter what the Supreme Court says.
On June 26, The Supreme Court, led by Justice Antonin Scalia, decided 5 to 4 that a Washington D.C. ban on handguns was unconstitutional. In the opinion of the majority, Scalia wrote with great hyperbole, “Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.” He went on to write that though the majority of the court was pretty bummed about D.C.’s gun violence problem, a ban wasn’t the answer. And in that respect, he was right. Despite the 32-year ban on handguns, D.C.’s homicide numbers are still more akin to an old west barter town than an affluent nation’s capital.
July 17 marked the first day D.C. residents were legally allowed to go out and get strapped. In response to the ruling, D.C. officials passed emergency legislation to place limitations on what kind of side arms John Q. Public was allowed to register and where and how they should be kept: nothing that fires 12 rounds or more, and those burners have to be kept at home for self-defense only, either locked in a box or unloaded and disassembled. In the first day post-ban, D.C. police headquarters received 60 citizens looking for gun applications. According to an article written by Brian Westley of the Associated Press, one of the applicants was Anthony Hamilton, who wanted a gun in order to protect his wife and pre-teen daughter. Hamilton, never the victim of violent crime in his 35 years as a D.C. resident, was quoted in the article as saying, “You never know when someone is going to kick the door in.”
Now, this is the type of paranoia I can appreciate. But really, Mr. Hamilton. Is a gun the answer? If an uzi-wielding madman kicked down your door, are you going to be able to assemble that gun and fire a round to take down the intruder before he shoots your wife and defiles your daughter? Are you going to fumble with your key as you try to unlock your gun safe? Are you even going to remember where the damn thing is? Ask yourself, Mr. Hamilton: What would Batman do? You’ll be glad you did.