My deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones in Aurora during last week’s shooting. Death is never an easy thing to deal with, and less so when it seems so random and senseless. The evil that committed didn’t even die — he’s still alive. And let us hope he is brought to justice swiftly for the peace of mind of the victim’s families. They will be in my prayers.
Last week a lone, armored gunman walked into a crowded movie theater and began shooting with several weapons leaving 12 dead and 70 injured. James Holmes, 24, had left his own apartment boobytrapped and headed for the theater. After purchasing a ticket, he left through the emergency exit and propped it open before gearing up in armor and grabbing his weapons, before walking back inside, releasing a gas canister to obscure the audience’s view, and began shooting. After stopping, he walked back outside and surrendered peacefully by his vehicle to police, who responded within 90 seconds of the first 911 report. He then told them he had booby trapped his apartment, where they went to investigate and later made it safely inside, discovering a great deal of expensive and sophisticated explosives.
THE PUBLIC AND MEDIA UPROAR
Questions have exploded across the mediasphere about the senselessness of it all, gun control and the similarity of this shooting only a thirty minute drive from the Columbine High School Shooting that occurred a little over ten years ago — an event that took place while I was in high school in Georgia.
Why haven’t guns been restricted or outlawed in the Denver area? What didn’t we do before that could have prevented this event? How can people continue justifying gun ownership when tragedies like this leave many injured and dead, and many more left standing without their loved ones wondering — WTF?
The media has had an absolute field day, with NBC rushing in to pin this to the Tea Party and Fox News asking if the shooter had the same hair color as antagonist “The Joker” from “The Dark Knight,” the previous movie in Christopher Nolan‘s trilogy on Batman. Across the board, it’s been rather biased and sensationalized. Not the tragedy of it, but the causes and attributes, which is where the media channels like Fox, NBC (formerly MSNBC), CNN, etc. get most of their viewership. It’s not the hard facts they’re after, it’s how they can angle it.
The public is left wondering — why does this keep happening? Why do people keep shooting others at random? What is happening to our youth?
We live in the most affluent period of human history. So few people die from starvation, homelessness or lack of emergency healthcare in the US that we don’t really know how to deal with death that isn’t on some bed from cancer or old age. In 2010, more people died from accidental injury than any other cause by a factor of six times when compared to vehicle or firearm related deaths, which numbered only 34,000 and 31,000 respectively. We’re not accustomed to violence that isn’t safely tucked away in poor neighborhoods or in riots around the world. We are in shock that one human being would want to kill another human being without even the political courtesy of stealing his sneakers or being passionately jealous about an unfaithful lover.
So when mentally ill, spiritually ill, or simply neurologically unbalanced people find mortal violence acceptable against perfect strangers, we’re doubly confounded. “Why don’t you have a reason for killing me?”
With such senselessness, we effort to find blame somewhere with which we can make an easy connection. We try to say that guns are the problem. After all, if people didn’t have guns, they wouldn’t kill each other, right?
This doesn’t really work, as we possess more guns today per person across the entire planet than any other time in history, and the world is still at its safest. Not only that, but that would be ignoring the thousands of years of death, destruction and dismemberment we suffered at the hands of the Mongols, Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Carthagians, Gauls, Salmatians, Celts, Incans, Muslims, Catholics, French and British prior to the advent of the firearm. How many millions of people died from swords? Knives? Spears? Arrows?
Humanity is a master at death, regardless of how noble we might consider our engagement in a particular war.
Next time you want to blame a gun for killing someone, after you ask the guy who pulls the trigger what his motivation for killing someone was, ask the gun what its motivation was. You can’t, because the gun is a tool, just like a car being driven over a pedestrian, a pen signing a kill order by a politician, lead pipe by a factory worker, peanuts slipped into food eaten by someone with allergies … I’ve never heard of peanuts being outlawed because people are allergic to them.
The greatest retort is: “Guns are designed for one thing — death. You can’t compare them with cars, ink pens, lead pipes or peanuts.”
Guns are tools in the hands of a human being. We don’t blame tools for how they’re used, regardless of what they are. Might as well arrest a surgeon for assault because he’s using a tool designed specifically to cut people open. It’s why and how you use a tool that creates evil, not the object itself.
THE REAL SOURCE OF BLAME
Whom do we blame?
Is it the society in which James Holmes grew up in? I could be his neighbor, but you couldn’t blame me if he makes bad decisions, and I haven’t wanted to do any such thing to others.
Is it his upbringing? Maybe. But not every child follows their parents teachings, no matter how hard their parents try.
Could we have arrested him early for being a shy PHD student? It’s not illegal to be suspicious. Millions of people in this country fantasize about killing their coworkers. Some even innocent people. It is not illegal to be weird or bent, or even heavily armed, as hundreds of thousands of intelligent men and women responsibly enjoy blowing up tannerite with high-powered 50-caliber rounds at 150 yards on private property. The difference is not the armament or the suspicious bent, only that you take the step beyond fantasy into actually injuring or killing innocent people.
Do we blame the government for not stopping him in time? Last time I checked, the government couldn’t stop a team of illegal aliens they already knew were on American soil from crashing several airliners into major national assets such as financial centers and military headquarters. One law-abiding American about to go mental is not necessarily going to just pop up on their magically psychic radar. We might be better at catching foreign-born terrorists, but free American citizens are still just that until they break the law, in whatever severity they commit their crimes.
Do we blame lack of gun control? Walk into any inner city neighborhood in DC or Detroit — some of the heaviest gun control laws in the country — and illustrate to me how gun-free they are. Gun laws serve only to disarm honest people who will actually follow the law, thereby making it easier to kill honest people by those who don’t care about laws.
Whom do we blame?
James Holmes, 24, murderer. (Once proven in a court of law.) And, if any accomplices arise, them too.
We blame him. We don’t blame society, or gun laws or politics or his parents or his friends or his video games or anybody or anything else. Millions of Americans everyday buy body armor, powerful weapons, live cold and isolated lifestyles, own explosives in their home, and dream of killing people, but only one killed innocent people that night in Aurora.
There is no typical solution to this issue, for a number of reasons.
For those who support police response, they experienced one of the swiftest response times I’ve ever heard of — 90 second response for a 911 call. The theater is surrounded by a mall, and a number of nice shopping areas. Police are often in the area, so this is a best-case-scenario short of have a police officer on scene at all times, which isn’t always practical. You couldn’t really hope for much better considering someone still had to call the police, dispatch turn that into an all-call and local forces to respond as quickly as they could.
For those who support citizen armament, there were reportedly two other people with weapons on-scene. Holmes, however, used tear gas to obscure himself from sight upon entering, making it as dangerous for both armed citizens to fire back. That would include police officers if they, too had, been on scene and attempted to respond. Holmes, for all intents and purposes, was invisible, and firing back at him without knowing well where he was may only have endangered other people.
Well, if the good guys couldn’t shoot back, wouldn’t just getting rid of guns entirely have prevented Holmes from his rampage?
You mean to tell me an unemployed medical student with reportedly $20,000 of armament wouldn’t have attempted his rampage because it was illegal to buy guns? A man willing to kill and injure in upwards of 80 people isn’t going to care that it’s illegal to buy weapons. If he wants to do something evil, he’ll do something evil.
How do we keep this from happening again? Should we step up government profiling? Make mandatory screenings part of ObamaCare? Take away honest people’s only recourse against lunatics by disarming them for “their own good?”
If we use math, disarming honest people means 85% of violent lunatics have guns and .2% of honest people (police) have guns. That’s not fair odds, especially considering police can’t respond in less than five seconds after violent lunatics have already gotten off ten shots. Instead, let’s promote a mathematical evening of the odds: 85% of violent lunatics will have to face at least 85% of honest people owning some type of weapon, and since honest people outweigh violent lunatics some 99% to 1%, that means violent lunatics will have less than a fraction of a percent of the ability to threaten people without all those honest people putting their violence in check.
Would that have helped here? No. Virginia Tech? Absolutely. It helped when an old man in an internet cafe prevented theft and violence by two men invaded his cafe and prepared to hurt and steal from lots of people.
Honest people owning guns don’t shoot strangers for no reason. Guns aren’t evil in the hands of good people. Like a scalpel, they’re neither good nor evil. The person using them is.
It’s not easy to swallow, especially when you want to blame inanimate objects for what intelligent beings do, but we cannot face the truth by burying our heads in the sand. Some people are evil, and whether it’s a gun or a No. 2 pencil, when they want to kill people, they will find a way — poison the water system, shoot an automatic weapon into a crowd, set off an explosive on a subway car. Better to equalize the environment than perpetuate the helplessness of our ever-naive public.
Ultimately, what we saw in Aurora is an evil man committing great evil. It was not his society, his family, his friends, his school, the theater, the victims, or even the tools which made him evil. It was him. He was the problem, the source.
Want someone or something to blame? Blame James Holmes and anyone else proven to be an accomplice. At least, unless new evidence proves otherwise. But at this point, don’t let political conjecture or preconceived biases blame anything but James Holmes for this one.