Last Friday, a gunman opened fire in a crowded theater in Aurora, Colorado, where moviegoers sat anticipating the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.” He came in an emergency exit and fired into the crowd after tossing tear gas canisters into the room. The result was 12 dead, 58 injured, and many families hurting. The press is calling it the biggest massacre in the history of the United States. From east coast to west, Americans are in a state of shock. We’re praying for the families and injured victims. The whole country is reeling as everyone fishes for a solution to such a horrific problem. What now? How do we prevent this happening again?
First of all, the young suspect, James Holmes, was a gifted scientist who received a federal grant to work on his Ph.D. at one of the most competitive neuroscience programs in the country. He’s originally from San Diego, where he once worked as a counselor for underprivileged children. An honors student at Westview High School, he chose not to walk in his graduation ceremony, but that’s not so unusual. His mother calls him a “good son.” On the surface he appears to be the ideal young American.
He grew up in a nice neighborhood and was the kind of person who smiled at his friends’ teasing. In 2010 he graduated with top honors from the University of California Riverside with a bachelor’s in science in neuroscience. He then moved to Aurora to continue his education at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
When did he snap? That’s the question flying across the country now. Every one is trying to figure out exactly what happened to make him attack so senselessly. Obviously, something did snap. Not many people noticed, but there were signs. Last month when he tried to join a gun range, the owner refused him because he found James “creepy.” He instructed his staff to watch out for him and refuse him entrance.
Today we’re all praying for his victims, but we also are desperately trying to find someone to blame. Accusations are flying via the media. We need a scapegoat.
“How did he get all those guns? We need to ban all guns from the public,” one group shouts.
“If those citizens had been armed,” the other side says, “someone could have taken him out before he hurt anybody.”
And of course there’s the political side. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said:
“You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country. And instead of the two people — President Obama and Gov. Romney — talking broadly about how they want to make the world a better place, okay, tell us how.”
Some people are screaming that God is punishing us, and others like the highly respected Mike Huckabee, says: “Ultimately we don’t have a crime problem, gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem, and since we’ve ordered God out of our schools, our military, our conversation, and our communities, we shouldn’t be surprised when all hell breaks loose.”
We want action. We the people want someone to do something. We of course have no idea what to do, but we want someone to figure it out and promise—no, swear to us that it will never happen again. According to Dan Gross, president of Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, last year on April 16, thirty-two victims of gun violence demanded that Congress take action to stop arming dangerous people.”
Great idea, but how exactly can we identify dangerous people like James Holmes. How can we deprive him of guns without depriving everyone else? Slowly but surely, these criminals are depriving us of our feelings of security. We should be safe at the theater, in our schools, in our homes, and in our workplaces. That feeling of safety that once was a firm part of the American Dream is disappearing.
I firmly agree that something must be done, but I don’t know what. Who does? How can we save ourselves from the lunatic fringe out there?