On the news this morning, the CEO of Cinemark called the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, an isolated incident.
Isolated? The mayor of Toronto said the same thing just last month when a gunman shot several people in a mall. The same was said last year in Arizona after Congresswoman Giffords and others were shot in front of a Safeway in Tucson.
In fact, Colombine and every incident since then has been called “isolated.”
On top of that, at every mass shooting, area residents have said they never expected it to happen “here.” Well, clearly, here is exactly where it happens.
But why? How is it friends, relatives, and neighbors don’t see that slow burn that leads up to such a shooting?
Of course there are copycats. But what drives the desire to cause such mayhem and tragedy? I think it comes down to two things.
First, there is a level of violence in our media today that is unprecedented. Violence is on the news every night. Many of the new release movies have strong levels of violence. And of course there are video games.
Now, the majority of people who see the news, go to a movie, or play a video game are probably not likely to become a mass murderer. But some are.
Combine the violence in the media with the hate spewed on some radio and TV talk shows, and we have a heady mix for someone on the edge. I wonder what presets the police will find on the car radio James Holmes drove to the theater in Aurora. And if they could get to his computer, I’d bet they’d find he explored many of the sites Jared Loughner, the shooter in Tucson last year, had been searching.
Some would say we need to monitor people’s web activity. I surely won’t go there though I do understand the sentiment. But surely someone noticed a change in behavior, a threat, some kind of motive.
Are we all our brothers’ keepers? In a sense, we are. We need to notice when someone’s behavior changes, when the mood darkens. And I think it is way past time for Hollywood and video game designers to consider their culpability in these acts of violence.
Second, of course, are the weapons themselves and the organizations that champion them. I am not at all anti-gun. However, are we making our country safer by allowing them to get so easily into almost anyone’s hands?
To drive a car – a deadly weapon in some senses – we have to study, practice and receive a license. To buy and use a deadly weapon, we have only to drop by a store or gun show, or simply click the button on the internet.
Why is there not a master list of who is buying what kinds of weapons? Loughner was known to be unstable, so if his name had popped up on a list indicating he’d tried to purchase an assault weapon, just maybe his murderous spree could have been prevented.
I know the constitution gives us the right to own guns (and I own one), but it doesn’t say that gun purchasers shouldn’t be background checked. It also doesn’t say anything about weapons designed solely for assault. We can’t (legally) to buy rocket launchers and nuclear bombs – other weapons of mass destruction – so why assault rifles?
The weapon James Holmes used in Aurora was banned in 1994. Largely in thanks to the NRA and gun lobby, the ban expired in 2004.
One day, at an NRA convention, some member on the edge could walk happily into the convention, one of many carrying an assault weapon. Smiling. He could then open up and shoot and kill fifty or sixty people.
And because the room would be full of righteous second-amendment-believing gun-toting good Americans, three quarters of the room would stand up and shoot back at this madman. And then how many would die.
Only then might the membership change their stance.

Published by Emilie

I'm a retired instructor from a community college where I taught Developmental English and Reading as well as English as a Second Language. I'm also now a published author of a bilingual children's book entitled. Luisa the Green Sea Turtle - Luisa la Tortuga Verde del Mar. It's available from me, through Amazon, and is in a few (more and more each day!) bookstores.

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  1. One of the things I find troubling here is that this man was able to purchase 6000 – 8000 rounds of ammunition and that did not raise a red flag with any authorities. We know Homeland Security has been tracking gun and ammunition sales on the internet. How did this guy not catch their attention? Was it because he didn’t have a surname that fit their terrorist profile? Will there be hearings in congress on this failure of HSA to stop THIS terrorist act?
    There is a lot of controversy about gun control and more politicians than most believe that are in favor of more controls. There is an organization of Mayors across the country, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. They lobby state and federal elected officials for sane and thoughtful approaches to gun control.
    One idea that has been floated is to control the ammunition rather than the gun. This would force those that wanted to stockpile large quantities for their own protection to make their own (kind of like the framers of the constitution had to). Does that mean that because of a criminal or emotional history people that wanted guns or ammunition that the law didn’t allowed or those who wanted disallowed guns or large quantities of ammunition could never obtain them? NO, they will always find a way to get them, but they will be criminals at that point and if our systems are working properly many more of them will be caught and jailed before they can commit such horrendous acts.
    It is time to talk sanely about this issue. It is time for us as voters to demand accountability of our elected officials. It is time for us as citizens to stand up to the Special Interest of the NRA and tell them they are no longer in charge. (If you are or have a loved one in the NRA talk to them about holding their lobbyist accountable for laws such as, stand your ground, that they support.)

    1. Thanks, Jeff. I just saw an interview on TV that said the rounds ordered aren’t out of ordinary for a serious sportsman. Perhaps people on-line ordering of ammunition needs to be stopped. Face to face only, records carefully scrutinized.For a new gun owner, that surely was a lot of ammo.

      1. Heard a guy from Australia interviewed. You can own a gun there, but it can’t be in everyday possession. Has to be stored at the gun club or the hunt club. I’m not sure this should apply to hand guns in the U S, but it seems like a really good idea.

  2. Very right on. We all need to get on and lobby our Congress people to renew the expired ban on assault weapons. Owning a hand gun for protection is fine. Owning an AK 47 or any mass repeat firing gun is not. And then there is the entire issue of how Laughner and now Holmes escaped a serious mental health evaluation and intervention. There are others out there. We all need to be supportive of real programs that really help.

  3. I am soooo with you on this! It makes no sense to me. There are o many thoughtful comments here. How can ant conscientious , responsible, thinking person support the mess we have now?

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