Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: July 2012

There have been 32 mass shootings in this country in the last 30 years. Maybe that’s why we’ve gotten so numb to the tragedy. Maybe that’s why these things don’t shake us to our core, as they should. I don’t know, I’m not an expert.

What I do know is a few nights ago a man named James Holmes walked into a dark movie theatre, threw smoke or tear gas bombs and then, while dressed in head-to-toe body armor, proceeded to kill 12 people and injure more than 50 more with his Ar-15 assault rifle, a Remington 870 shotgun and two Glock .40 pistols.

I think it’s wrong, even criminal, to associate the killers motives with some kid of political attachment. Maybe he was a registered Democrat, maybe a Republican, does it matter? I think not. I think it’s wrong that the media tends to cover these things like a distant, masturbating, voyeuristic chimp instead of as a diligent and proactive watchdog. I think it’s wrong to ascribe the political views of anyone else as the sole motivator, the cause, behind this nightmare.

Of course, the person to blame first and foremost must be Mr. Holmes. Unless he is found to be deeply mentally unbalanced, then he knew what he was doing was wrong. He knew it was a sick and vicious thing to do, and he did it anyway.

What I want to talk about for a moment isn’t James Holmes. It isn’t event he 2nd Amendment. I want to talk about America, violence and the art of escalation. Plenty of people in recent days have called for a new national debate about guns (I have been one of them). Others have argued that this is the time to pass a real restriction on automatic weapons (I have been one of them). And yet, this response has been met with a kind of hardened resistance from what I can only vaguely refer to as “The Right.”

First, there is the hesitation to politicize the tragedy, to force a seemingly partisan agenda on a country not prepared for it would not be responsible governing. So it won’t happen. Trust me, there will be no new laws banning assault weapons anytime soon. There won’t even be a discussion about guns, not a real one, because like almost any other social issue, it has become a subject which is impossible to discuss with those that disagree, because both sides treat their opponents like half-stupid tyrants and brutal animals.

Keep the guns, don’t keep the guns, it all makes very little difference, and here is why: Someone will always have a bigger gun. Someone will always have more bullets. Someone will always have better aim. We live in the country of escalation, unlike any before us. We like to take things up a notch.

Why do you think Holmes was dressed in full body armor? Because he knew in this country, in Colorado, that someone else in that theatre might be packing heat. They weren’t, and thank God, because one shooter was about all we could handle, I suspect. Holmes knew that typical citizens are likely to defend themselves, so he took it up a notch. He waited until they were alone, comfortable and trapped in a small, dark room. He used smoke, to blind and disorient. Then, his coup de grace, he used an AR-15 with a drum magazine holding more than 100 rounds to insure that nobody would get away or get in a lucky shot while he reloaded.

Normally, this is where I’d really launch into my standard liberal tirade about the dangers of guns not designed for hunting. But I won’t. I’ve had enough of that. Normally I’d say that violence only begat’s more violence and allowing bigger guns just means allowing BIGGER guns, but I’be had enough of that. I look for someone to blame, but I can’t, because I’ve had enough of that. I’m filled with such rage and sadness that I search every inch of the story and myself for some kind of answer, some way to ease the tension and soothe my soul, but I can’t. I’ve had enough of that. Too many times in a short life I’ve found myself staring in awe at a television screen while stretchers took away bodies covered in white sheets.

There is an answer, but I don’t know what it is. People in this country say we can’t take away the guns, that guns are meant to defend agains thieves and invaders of all kinds. Normally, I’d kindly point out that no AK47 has a chance against the invading Chinese or a corrupted US military complex and their tanks and fighter jets, but I’ve had enough of that. I’ve had enough arguing and fighting and waring. I’ve had enough violence and retribution and escalation. I’ve had enough bickering and pandering and moving speeches and press conferences for a lifetime.

What I know is that there are places in the world where children don’t get shot. There are places in the world where the schools don’t have metal detectors and where machine guns are restricted to the movies and the military. There are places in the world where men don’t wear body armor so they can shoot women and children. Those places exist, and some of them are Democracies with healthcare, infrastructure and freedom of religion and speech.

Maybe this is what the founders wanted, maybe they imagined an armed citizenry never to be commanded by an oppressive government. Or maybe they meant to arm select members of the community to act as a militia. Or maybe it was a stupid fucking Amendment written before we had streetlights or armed police forces and nobody had the technology to fire 100 rounds per minute. I don’t know, I’m not an expert. What I know is that I’ve had enough.

This country, this land, is the only place in the world where these things happen on such a regular basis as to haunt the mind and tarnish our very souls. We declare as indeed we are the defenders of freedom around the globe, and protector of the little guy. This country is an idea, one that has lit the whole world for two and a half centuries. And yet, it’s the only country where people occasionally snap and kill a few dozen innocent people while the rest of us watch and, while choking down our hamburgers say “How tragic.”

I don’t know what the answer is, and I don’t care. I know that everywhere else isn’t like this, and I know my country can do better. That’s all I know.

Advertisements