I am an avid moviegoer. I love going to the theater. I even enjoy going alone. I like to arrive early and listen as the theater comes alive around me with the munching, crunching, whispers and quiet laughter of the patrons. Even the endless stream of previews play a part in the whole movie going experience. An experience I can best describe as a nearly religious. Perhaps even more so as I won’t go into a movie after it has started, but I have no problem going into mass late. Go figure. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about going to the movies that I find so attractive. Certainly the movie itself and the entertainment it brings is reason enough, but it’s so much more than that. From the moment I enter the lobby, leaving the drudgery and doldrums of daily life behind, the magic begins!
Sadly, the sanctity of the movie theater has been violated. Last Friday morning, in an act I can only described as completely senseless, 12 moviegoers were killed and 58 others injured, gunned down by a crazed gunman, armed to the teeth and wearing body armor, as they watched the midnight screening of the new Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.” Many at first thought that the armed man at the front of the theater was part of a publicity stunt. Even after he lobbed a smoke canister into the auditorium and fired his weapon into the air most thought it was part of the show. He then aimed the shotgun into the crowd and began firing. That’s when all hell broke lose! Evil has a new name in Aurora Colorado and that name is James Holmes.
After pondering the Colorado theater shooting for several days now, I am no closer to understanding why this twenty four year old, seemingly intelligent young man did such a despicable thing. Everyone is searching for answers. Finger pointers are already taking aim at the NRA and pro gun legislation because of all the weapons and ammunition in the killers possession. But blaming the gun industry is ridiculous, this atrocious crime was not committed because of guns but because of one man’s delirium.
Remember the bumper-sticker “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” I have to say I’m a believer. A gun or other weapon by itself is not a killer, oh it is certainly capable of killing and has the power to do so, but not without human assistance. A gun can’t pull its own trigger or aim itself. It is the person handling the weapon that is in control. He decides whether or not the weapon becomes a killing machine.
As Americans we have a Constitutional right to bear arms. To ensure that guns don’t wind up in the wrong hands we have guidelines and background check one must pass before being allowed to take possession of a weapon. This process will usually weed out certain gun purchasers including convicted felons, people convicted of domestic assault or abuse, illegal immigrants, and the mentally ill. The key word here is ‘usually’.
The Colorado shooter purchased his weapons and ammunition legally. He exhibited no characteristics of mental illness. In fact he appeared to be of above average intelligence and had been enrolled in a very exclusive doctoral program. How can the system weed out someone who has never exhibited unusual, illegal or aberrant behavior? It can’t. The Aurora gunman is an enigma, a complete wild card, the joker.
So what do we do, how do we weed out those like the theater shooter, do we outlaw guns and other weapons? Is that really the answer? What exactly will that accomplish? You know as well as I do that new rules and regulations may succeed in keeping weapons out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, but absolutely nothing in keeping them out of the hands of criminals. There will always be a black market for weapons and other contraband. How do we stop the black market? That ain’t gonna happen. Not anytime soon anyway.
In the meantime we should not focus our attention on the killer, whose motive may simply have been to amass a huge body count in order to gain notoriety, a madman’s claim to fame. We should instead remember the 12 victims who lost their lives in the gruesome movie theater massacre last Friday morning and the families left behind who must pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and move on. It won’t be easy. Take a moment and pray for them. There is power in prayer.
Just a Thought…