We may never understand what leads anyone to terrorise their fellow human beings. Such even is senseless – beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes someone to take the life of another, we do know what makes that life worth living.
President Barack Obama
Thirteen years ago, two teenagers opened fired at Columbine high school and killed 12 students and a teacher. Five years ago, a young man opened fire at Virginia Tech University and killed 32 people. Two years and eight months ago, a Major in the U.S. Army open fired at Fort Hood and killed 12 soldiers and one civilian. Last year, a man opened fire at a Tucson Arizona supermarket killing a Arizona District Court Chief Judge and five other people. Yesterday, a man opened fire in a movie theater killing 12 people.
This latest shooting brings the total of U.S. massacres to 24, and sends the same chill of confusion and questions down American’s spines- a feeling that has become all too familiar.
It happened during the midnight screening of the latest Batman movie, The Rise of the Dark Night. According to news reports, a man bought a ticket for the movie at the Century 16 theatre in Aurora, Colorado, and snuck out the emergency exit, leaving the door propped open. When he returned, he was wearing “ballistic gear” complete with a helmet, throat protecter and gas mask.
Movie patrons reported that they thought they were witnessing a movie promotional stunt, until the man released two containers filled with a gas down the aisle and started firing into the audience. There was no method to his shooting, witnesses say, just a spray of bullets that went on for many rounds. The scene turned the once happy and anticipatory scene into chaos and a blood bath.
The shooter only paused once, survivors say, perhaps to reload. Then as quick as the catastrophe started, it was over. The end result was the death of 12 people, and the injury of 58. Three of the people killed reportedly put themselves in harms way to protect others. Also among the dead was a Navy sailor, an aspiring reporter and a 6-year-old girl.
Police arrested James Holmes, a 24-year-old from San Diego California. In custody he told police that he was the joker, a character from the Batman series. He had turned the movie fantasy world into a reality.
The whole scene reopens the debates about gun control and movie violence. Some people are calling for harsher gun control laws, while others are arguing that if people were allowed to have guns in the theater someone could have shot Holmes before he injured so many people.
Personally, I feel neither one of these would have made things better. Holmes wasn’t a registered psychopath. He had moved to Colorado to work on his PHD in neuroscience. He was described by acquaintances as very intelligent but shy, and his record was clean, except for a traffic violation. No matter how harsh the law, there would be no reason for a state to not issue him a gun.
On the flip side, if the theater were full of people with guns, the scene would have turned into a shootout with no one knowing the perpetrator from the hero. More than likely there would be more casualties.
Acts like these are called senseless, because we won’t be able to figure them out and we probably will never be able to able from preventing them from happening again. Sure we can make the theater as tough to get into as airports, but as my mother used to say “where’s there’s a will there’s a way.” If someone really wants to cause harm, they will find a way to do it.
The only thing we can do is what President Obama said in his speech, realize that life is fragile and appreciate the moments we have. Live wiser, love harder and pursue your dreams. That way when unexpected situations arise, you don’t have to sit with regrets.
The families of the victims are forever in my prayers, and I wish them the strength to make it through in this tough time.