Friday, July 20, 2012

Why Aurora? Why Colorado? Why Again?

I'm trying to figure out what to say now, but right now all I can think of is this: When will we ever learn? Early last year, a mentally disturbed young man opened fire and caused the Tuscon massacre that nearly killed Gabrielle Giffords. Earlier this year, another mentally disturbed young man opened fire on another young man for simply holding refreshments he had just bought at the neighborhood convenience store. And in addition to these famous cases, there are many more tragic cases of gun violence that we just don't hear about.

Today, we are hearing about this.

These people were going to a midnight screening of the new "Batman" movie at a theater in Aurora, Colorado. 59 of them are now wounded, and 12 others have already died. The suspect, a 24 year old man by the name of James Eagan Holmes, has been arrested and is now in custody.

Obviously, no one was prepared for this. Not on a lovely Friday. Not on this hot summer day. Not at a "Batman" movie premiere. Not this, again. So I certainly understand the local Congressman's instant reaction.

“I got an alert about an hour ago from the White House that this had occurred,” [Rep. Ed] Perlmutter [D-CO] said. “We finished voting late last night, and then to have a psychotic son of a bitch do something like this — sorry for the cussing — you know, it’s boggling to my mind.”

“This is the kind of thing that you prepare for, you dread,” he continued, describing the text he received from the White House at around five in the morning.

“There are some sick and violent and psychotic people, but Colorado is not a violent place,” Perlumtter continued. “Columbine, and now this guy, whoever this person is, I just don’t know why we have a couple crazy people like that and how they have such easy access to guns.”

“Colorado is not a violent place but I’m afraid we’ve got some crazy, violent people that have sometimes shown up in our midst,” he added, his voice cracking a bit.

“This thing is a shocking incident that is going to cause everybody to stop and take a look at violence in our society,” he concluded.

I totally understand. And while I don't want to inappropriately inject politics into such a horrible tragedy, I also can't avoid a real public policy problem we're encountering. Can we really keep avoiding this? How many more of these tragedies must occur before we ask ourselves if it's really a good idea to make so many weapons so easily accessible? And should weapons be more easily accessible than mental health resources?

I should probably take another moment of silence. The victims certainly deserve it. And frankly, we all need more time to digest what happened. I just can't understand why we keep letting this happen over and over again.

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