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The news of the horrific carnage at the movie theater in Aurora, near Denver, has prompted wall-to-wall coverage and commentary across the spectrum.
The shooting of 71 people, with 12 fatalities to this point, brings to mind the review of the mass shootings in recent years, including the death of 33 people at Virginia Tech, the 13 at Columbine High School also in Colorado, 13 dead at Fort Hood in Texas and six at a town meeting with United States Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson.
The alleged shooter, James Holmes, age 24, was arrested outside the theater in the multiplex’s parking lot. He has the same insipid grin as did Jared Lee Loughner, the man who allegedly unleashed the fusillade in Tucson.
The debate will now rage about whether we need more gun control in this country. But even if the law denies guns to criminals and others with some kind of negative record, those laws wouldn’t have stopped Holmes. Media reports state he bought his guns legally.
The further restriction of guns in our society will not address the violence perpetrated with guns. And, as long as the Constitution’s Second Amendment remains the law of the land, people have a right to have guns and other weapons to defend themselves. Our society is better off with its freedoms than with new restrictions. We can’t but wonder what would have happened during Kristallnacht had the Austrian and Polish Jews had weapons.
That said, the real challenge is to understand why these acts of violence occur. Some have suggested that other armed citizens could have reduced the number of victims had they killed the shooter; but in so doing, we would be denied any inkling of the shooters’ motivation.
Other media have reported tighter security around the showings of “The Dark Knight Rises,” the Batman film playing in the theater where the gunman launched his rampage. It’s ridiculous for any linkage between the probably crazy behavior of the lone gunman and the film on the screen.
What this tragedy calls for is:
· A need for more research into the causes of violence and mass murder;
· A more rational view of what causes violence; and,
· A more realistic view of individual responsibility.
We doubt the American psyche will embrace the rationality. But we can hope.