July 21, 2012 by David K. Sutton
Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting: America is NOT shocked
Every time one of these mass-shooting, mass-murder events happens in the United States we see headlines like “Americans in shock,” and descriptive words like horror and terror, but do you see a problem here? Did you notice that I started this article by saying “every time,” which indicates this is not a rare event. The fact is, while overall crime statistics are at 20 (even 30) year lows in many categories (including murder) we still have mass-shooting events occurring with regular frequency. Each one of us has essentially come to expect that these mass-shooting events are going to happen regularly. So is there anything shocking about it?
I’m not trying to downplay the tragedy of the lives lost and the lives affected, I’m simply saying that we have grown so accustomed to these events being part of American society that we no longer think there are any solutions. We immediately want to find out what was wrong with the shooter so that we can explain away the latest mass-shooting as the result of a deranged lone-gunman.
When do we question the norms of our society? Do we think violence in television and movies is to blame? Do we think a deeply embedded gun culture in America is to blame? Is it a failed confidence in institutions, including government that is failing us? Is our mental health system failing to treat those who are in need of treatment? Do we need tougher gun laws that make it harder to obtain a massive stockpile of assault weapons and ammunition?
We know in this case James Holmes purchased the guns and ammunition legally before killing 12 and wounding 58 at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater early Friday morning.
If we only have this conversation in the days after these violent events then we are never going to get to the root of the problem, which most likely does not have one single cause. For that reason, no topic, including gun control, should be off the table. It is a failure of our elected officials when they say gun control is off the table in the wake of a mass-shooting event, especially when the shooter bought the guns and ammunition legally.
Anyone who dares to say that an event such as the massacre at a Colorado movie theater early Friday morning demands that we rethink our approach to the regulation of firearms is accused of “exploiting” the deaths of innocent people.
This is part of the gun lobby’s rote response, and the rest of us allow it to work every time. Their goal is to block any conversation about how our nation’s gun laws, the most permissive in the industrialized world, increase the likelihood of mass killings of this sort.
This is not an anti-gun rallying call, it’s a call for us to have an adult conversation about guns and violence in America. We should not allow a narrow interest group to control the conversation every time we face a tragic and violent mass-shooting event.