The most important thing to keep in mind is that nothing’s going to change. You may as well accept that right now.
Since last week’s midnight movie shooting spree in Aurora, Colorado — the one that cost a dozen people their lives and left more than 70 others hurt — everything has moved along according to a well-established routine. We know how this works because we’ve seen it unfold far too many times before — and it now seems to do so with almost surreal and disconcerting precision. The press descends, the details trickle out, the obvious yet nearly unanswerable questions are asked, the politicization begins, the gun control debate reignites, the usual suspects step up to offer the insane fantasy of a roomful of guns somehow allowing a bold hero or two to stop the violent actions of one gunman, the lack of faith in Jesus is offered as an authentic rationale for why there was ever a gunman in the first place, pop culture is blamed — all of this is part of the machinery that ramps up every time something like this happens. And it happens far too often.
Of all the possible reactions, though, to a mass casualty shooting, only one has the potential to stop the next one from ever occurring — and unfortunately it’s a third rail that no one with any authority in this country seems to be willing to touch, particularly not in an election year. Sensible gun control is a must in any civilized society and only an idiot or a demagogue would argue differently — trouble is, there are plenty of both to go around in the U.S. these days and quite a few of them are in positions of power. The bottom line, however, is that these voices have to be marginalized for the benefit of all of us. They won’t be — they never are — but they really need to be. Somebody has to be willing to, if you’ll forgive the ironic pun, step up and take the bullet for the rest of us and fight to put the gun zealots in their place.
Understand something: I own a gun. A Sig Sauer Compact .45. I was trained in how to use it by my father who’s both an ex-cop and an ex-Navy SEAL. I don’t have an issue with the vast majority of those who own guns in this country and I certainly don’t want to see the 2nd Amendment trampled on by anyone. But at some point the madness has got to stop. And that’s what our current gun laws are as well as the loopholes that mentally disturbed people like James Holmes seem to be able to jump through without so much as a hitch: complete madness. We have the power to change it, but in keeping with tradition there will be a lot of hand-wringing in the aftermath of this violence but not a damn thing actually done to stop it from happening again.
What we’re going to hear — what we’re hearing already — are a lot of asinine histrionics from the gun lobby and its surrogates in the corridors of power about the danger of restricting our precious freedoms. It’s the usual round-robin of nonsense in which every single incidental factor at play in this attack is amplified and put on display while the most essential element of it — the very tool used to carry out the act — is pushed to the back burner through a lot of near-comical obfuscation and horseshit rationalization. The fact is that James Holmes carried a weapon of war into that theater and was equipped with enough high-caliber ammo to start his own private army — and he obtained it all legally, as was his God-given right. Thanks to that right, one guarded by every politician on the take from the NRA and enabled by those unwilling to fight the tide and press for common-sense gun laws, 12 people died. They died, in fact, to protect that right — because that’s the cost of our “freedom” in this case: people have to die.
As long as our gun laws remain what they are and as long as they’re fought for by opportunists and exploited by sociopaths, people are going to die. There will be more shootings like the one in Aurora, Colorado. It wasn’t the first and it certainly won’t be the last. But those deaths, again, will be the price of our freedom to arm ourselves to the teeth without restriction or even oversight and with virtual impunity. Three-month-olds will be shot, heroic 20-somethings will take a bullet to the back trying to save others in the chaos, young women who survived one mass murder will die in another, all so that we can continue our uninterrupted fetishistic affair with heavy artillery under the bullshit guise of needing to defend ourselves against everything from the scary brown people across the freeway to the tyrannical One World Government takeover.
The old saying is right: freedom isn’t free. It’s paid for in blood. In this case, the blood of innocent Americans. I hope it’s worth it.
But even if it isn’t, who’s going to do something about it?