When I awoke last Friday morning, and saw the first news of the carnage at the movie theatre in Aurora CO, the first thing that came to mind was the horror at Columbine High School in 1999. It became the basis for my post one week ago today.
As I write media is beginning to go silent on the tragedy at Aurora. Over at the Eagan Patch non-scientific online poll, the number favoring no gun control still dominates, but the percentage has hardly changed since the beginning. The thread of comments seems to be ending, but the emphasis has seldom been the tragedy inside the theater, rather the unfettered right to have guns*.
So we live.
Monday, mostly out of curiosity, I went to Dark Knight Rises at the Woodbury Theatre. The film isn’t my normal fare, but I felt it was well done, deserving its four stars (highest rating).
The film kept attentive a fairly full Woodbury theatre audience of teens and adults, and it had strong take-away messages for anyone caring to ponder such things as good and evil.
There were no armed guards at the theatre, or unusual precautions I could notice. Staff were polite as always. Going to the Woodbury Theatre is always a pleasant experience.
In the theatre, I would guess that most of us were thinking about what happened a few days earlier in Colorado.
I certainly noticed my own feelings at the approximate half-hour mark, the point in the movie when the carnage took place in Aurora.
It was heart-warming to notice a couple of days later that Batman himself, Christian Bale, had showed up at the hospital in Aurora. It is hardly worth being shot to meet a movie star, and President Obama came to Aurora as well, but the in-person presence was a nice touch nonetheless.
Of course, death is something we all live with. Aurora was only a spike.
Out of curiosity I looked up death statistics.
On a normal day in the United States, nearly 7,000 people die. About 100 of these die in automobiles; perhaps 25 or so die in shootings; twice as many die through gun accidents or suicide with a gun; (far more are injured and terrorized in these shootings.)
World-wide, that Friday in July, 2012, about 156,000 people died from all causes.
So, should we even care about a few wasted lives in that movie theater in suburban Denver?
Yes, we should.
They are unnecessary deaths, due strictly to allowing someone “freedom” and “liberty” – “the right” – to purchase and then use deadly weapons to take away others freedom and liberty.
The thread of the community newspaper poll went on. The most recent comment count I have is nearing 300.
Monday, at 11:16 a.m. I entered my second and last personal response to the thread:
“I’ve followed this thread since almost the beginning – my computer says 163 posts so far. I wonder how many have experienced the reality of guns person-against-person. It makes a big difference. When I filled in the questionnaire which brought me here, I marked ‘sometimes’. In my comment, I said I qualified as expert marksman in the Army, but I have never owned a firearm and don’t intend to.
I was in the Army 1962-63. Volunteered for the Draft (ever fewer know what that is). Turned out I was assigned to an Infantry Company in a newly reactivated Infantry Division preparing for duty in a place that was abstract to most of us – Vietnam. We played a lot of war in my two years, up close and personal, with real primitive M-1 rifles (blank ammo), bayonet training, and the like. We crawled under barbed wire under a fusillade of machine gun fire. We experienced tear gas. We did maneuvers in several states.
Even playing war was dead serious. You found out it wasn’t a video game or a theory. You could get killed more easily than you could kill. Having a gun, and doing target practice isn’t the real deal, rest assured. In the chaos of that theater on Friday night, the worst thing to happen would have been a gunslingers duel. My opinion: authorize everyone to have a machete, and banish guns, period. Yes, a fantasy. But makes more sense than assault weapons on every corner. And check out “On Killing” by David Grossman on Amazon. Somebody earlier referred to him.”
There were no responses on-line, but the conversation continued on other topics.
Maybe it’s a good time to review Columbine and that movie the gun-folks love to hate: Bowling for Columbine. It’s free for viewing on-line, here. And here’s Michael Moore on the issue. He’s paid his dues.
If my math is correct, since Columbine there have been over 100,000 violent person-against-person gun deaths in the United States.
If you think policy makers need to pay attention to our being awash in deadly weapons, don’t go silent, as the news media leaves Aurora for the next deal. Stay with it. The Brady Campaign is a good ongoing resource.
Gandhi had it right: “we must be the change we wish to see in the world”.
* – Here’s the last comment on the Patch poll, at least by 11:15 p.m. Thursday, July 26.
Carol Turnbull: “This is from An Arms Race We Can’t Win, one of the links posted above, for those who didn’t bother to check it out: “The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has compiled a 62-page list of mass shootings since 2005. What’s striking is that there isn’t a single example of a concerned bystander with a concealed-carry permit who stopped a mass shooting… “We’re also excessively pessimistic about our ability to control firearms in the United States. Since 9/11, federal officials have done an excellent job of restricting the fertilizers and chemicals required to produce homemade explosives.””