When tragedy struck an Aurora, Colorado movie theatre last week, a life and death drama unfolded before the very eyes of a horrified nation. A fun, midnight premier of the latest Batman film instead became a traumatic experience never to be forgotten by those who lived through it.
Covered head-to-toe in protective body armor, the gunman opened fire in the theater using multiple weapons from handguns to assault rifles. The Aurora chief of police reported that the man had colored his hair red and claimed he was Batman’s comic book nemesis, the Joker.
Accounts so far describe the alleged shooter, 24-year-old James Holmes, as a clean-cut, doctoral student with no background in criminal activity or predilection for violence. Nevertheless, he painstakingly planned the attack on the theater in every detail, from his booby-trapped apartment, to the careful selection of explosives and firearms.
In the end, more than a dozen people died and many more were injured as people desperately search for a motive. Some people are blaming the Batman films, particularly Heath Ledger’s version of the arch villain, the Joker, for inspiring Holmes’ behavior. Others are pointing fingers at the media in general for sensationalizing this kind of random violence.
As usual, it didn’t take long for the anti-gun lobby and the liberal left (generally one and the same) to politicize the horrific event in favor of their agenda. Arguing that further gun restrictions are needed because the shooter obtained the firearms legally is without basis.
Logically, someone who is capable of this kind of cold, calculated murder would have found a way to obtain what he needed regardless of the legality. Conversely, the pro-gun conservative assertion that the suspect could have been stopped sooner if more people carried firearms is just ridiculous.
If a bunch of gun-toting amateurs with over-active hero complexes had suddenly opened fire on the attacker the only result would have been even more bloodshed. It’s unimaginable why anyone needs an assault rifle for personal protection, but guns are not the issue in this case.
In the coming months, armchair experts will dilute and dissect the facts and anecdotes from the tragedy, each offering their own empty opinion of why and how someone could commit such a horrible act. But no amount of speculation will break through the facts in this case because they reside only in the distorted mind of the suspect, Holmes.
Short of post 9-11 level security measures placed at every public venue, there is little else that could have prevented this tragedy. The Aurora shooting was the act of a disturbed mind who, if not identified by some level of professional evaluation, would have eventually found some way to act out his violent tendencies.
In the movies, even a genius superhero like Batman is portrayed in his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, as emotionally troubled and bordering madness. But the end result of his violent, albeit not lethal, tendencies allows people to accept his methods to justify the outcome. Justice is served, and the bad guy either lands in jail or somehow causes his own deadly demise.
Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work like that. Disturbed individuals do bad things. It is rarely predictable and often ends in tragedy. Pushing for further anti-gun legislation simply gets more weapons into the hands of criminals and limits defensive capabilities of law-abiding citizens, and even the police.
Instead, perhaps experts, not politicians, should focus on the more difficult task – dealing with the people who might eventually create havoc and death through such violent acts, regardless of what kind of weapon they use.