A heavily armed gunman opened fire in a packed movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, early Friday, killing 12 people and injuring at least 38 more including children. Victims' accounts of the horrific events have filled the airwaves; however, today's incident has also brought out many voices pleading for greater gun reform in the United States.
The shooter burst through the exit door at the bottom of a Denver area movie theater during a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." In a bullet proof vest and armed with several weapons, the shooter threw a teargas canister into the auditorium before opening fire.
Police arrested the suspect outside of the theater who told them he also had explosives in his car and apartment. Police have not found any explosives in the vehicle but reported that the suspect's apartment does appear to be rigged with explosives.
Police have now identified the suspect as James Holmes, 24, of Aurora.
At least 12 people have died. Their families must be given space to mourn, and that space should be respected. But it does not honor the dead to insist that there must be no room in that space for rational thought and critical appraisal. Indeed, such situations demand both.
For one can only account for so many "isolated" incidents before it becomes necessary to start dealing with a pattern. It is simply not plausible to understand events in Colorado this Friday without having a conversation about guns in a country where more than 84 people a day are killed with guns, and more than twice that number are injured with them. [...]
The trite insistence that "guns don't kill people, people kill people" simply avoids the reality that people can kill people much more easily with guns than anything else that's accessible. Americans understand this. That's why a plurality supports greater gun control, and a majority thinks the sale of firearms should be more tightly regulated. [...]
The gun lobby has proved sufficiently potent in rallying opposition to virtually all gun control measures that Democrats have all but given up on arguing for it. In the meantime, the country is literally and metaphorically dying for it.
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence President Dan Gross stated:
On behalf of the Brady Campaign, I send our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and survivors of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
This tragedy is another grim reminder that guns are the enablers of mass killers and that our nation pays an unacceptable price for our failure to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. We are outraged. [...]
As someone who has suffered the lasting impact of gun violence, and President of Brady, I can tell you that we don’t want sympathy. We want action. Just this past April 16, the anniversary of the worst mass shooting in American history, 32 victims of gun violence joined us to demand Congress take action to stop arming dangerous people.
In response to the Virginia Tech shooting not so long ago, a board member of Small Arms Survey, Moser-Puangsuwan had stated: “Other Western countries like Australia and the UK have one mass shooting, then institute policies on guns and don’t have a repeat. In the U.S., it happens again and again.”
Today Moser-Puangsuwan continued: 'It’s tragic that my comment remains true and this has happened — yet again.'"
* * *