This morning I heard news about the horrific tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. You can read the article on CNN.com if you want more information. An armed man entered a theater full of patrons who were watching The Dark Knight Rises midnight showing. He wore a gas mask. After he entered, he threw tear gas into the theater. He then proceeded to shoot, killing 12 and wounding 50 people. The descriptions of terror given by the victims horrified me. They also made me so very, very angry.
What in the world possessed this man to take the lives of so many people into his hands? What made him so disturbed that he felt the need to perpetrate so much destruction? Who made him the person who chooses who gets to live and who dies?
I know that mental illness causes people to do commit atrocities and that, sometimes, we don’t discover the motivation behind such acts. He may not even know directly why he broke. It just isn’t fair. Those people were excited to see a movie that they’ve probably been waiting a while to see. They stayed up all night, waiting in long lines, and enjoying the comradeship that comes with being around other fans. Families, friends, and strangers were drawn closer together because of the time spent in anticipation of the opening of this movie. So much synergy destroyed by a single act of violence.
I have never been one who advocates gun control. My family is from the country. Usually hunting and country go hand in hand. My husband has guns; he was in the military and hunts on occasion. I’ve been around guns for as long as I can remember. I have chosen not to have my own guns because it never really interested me. The thing is, gun safety has always, always been taught and we are doing the same with our daughter. Respecting the power of firearms is the only way to be safe around them. Now, though, I wonder if anyone focuses on that anymore. Should there be stricter rules for owning a gun? Should there be a limit on how many guns a person can own? Should a psych evaluation be required?
This is the third time in my life that I’ve asked these questions. (Political viewpoint coming up, bear with me.) I am not big into governmental control over certain things. Growing up around so many responsible owners of firearms gave me a sense of security. If everyone was like my family then there would be no need to control guns. I am doubting that now. There have been entirely too many instances of mass murder by one person with guns. Where do we draw the line? I am not saying that guns should be banned. I think they are entirely too easy to acquire. I don’t have the answer about how to fix this problem, though I wish I did.
Then I started thinking about what people will say about this tragedy. Right now it is fresh, but in a week or two, it will be over. There will be another event somewhere that makes this one fade. That is when the comments will come, making light out of the situation. I know that humor is a way for people to deal with input that their minds are having difficulty processing. What about those who have lost family and loved ones? This will NEVER be humorous to them. Ever.
I know people who had family involved in the Columbine shootings. One of my friends used to coach swimming there. Her mother worked at Columbine when the shootings occurred 13 years ago. She still cannot talk about it because the pain is so close to her heart. You can see it in her eyes. Our students were babies when the shootings happened. They sometimes joke about another Columbine. It is not real to them and therefore it is a source of macabre humor. They don’t know how much it hurts.
I guess the point of this rambling post is that we should not forget this. There has to be something we can do to prevent events like this occurring. I don’t want to live in a world where fear permeates every thing we do. I refuse to be afraid.