By now you’ve all heard the story: some depraved waste of humanity entered the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises last Friday and ended the lives of 12 people, wounding 58 others.
I saw this from two perspectives. On one hand midnight movies are one of my favorite past-times. 2-4 times a month, you’ll find my girlfriend and me at our local multiplex catching the latest flick before every 9-5er can get their water-cooler chat on. As I write this, I’m gearing up for yet another midnight viewing in just a few hours.
I honestly can’t imagine the horror that those people went through. I can’t wrap my brain around the mind of a man that could perpetuate such an atrocity.
This was an event which could have occurred anywhere, in any town. I’ve read a few editorials, and even posts from friends, wondering what will ultimately happen to midnight releases. Will they continue? Will they become a police state? As far as I’m concerned the location of a movie theater was relatively arbitrary. While mass murders are occurring with an increasing frequency, all are as random as the crazy bastards who enact them.
We’ve seen high schools shot up, colleges, political town hall meetings, shopping malls, and now movie theaters. Any other crazy thought that could have entered this monster’s brain-pan and we’d have instead heard reports coming from a comic book convention, or video store, or softball game, or anywhere else a psychopathic geek could have dreamed up. These events can’t be predicted. So, when I hear of police officers being present at film screenings and theaters considering eliminating midnight movies, I really wonder what purpose is really being served.We’re equally unsafe from these shootings anywhere we go.
Which brings me to the other perspective I’m grappling with. When I first learned what had happened in that Colorado suburb, I wasn’t shocked. For the first time, I had accepted that these sorts of shootings are now commonplace. They are now an accepted part of American life. They’re no different from floods, tornadoes, earthquakes or hurricanes. That thought really scares me.
How common are these shootings? Take into account this anecdote: one of the victims of last Friday’s attack has previously survived a similar encounter. Doesn’t that chill you to your bones? This is not a once in a lifetime, chance encounter.
These events follow a familiar pattern. The shock and outrage give way to cries for gun control and the NRA’s statements about how they’ll only give up their guns over their dead bodies. Then, perhaps, Michael Moore will make a film distorting the facts.
Then the crickets chirp while nothing changes. And in that, I think that the gun control debates are terribly misguided. Guns don’t kill people. You’ve heard this before, and I believe it. Psychotic mother-effers kill people.
As someone who has grown up around guns and has enjoyed an occassional trip to the range, I know that firearms can be a fun and safe hobby in responsible, sane hands. A mentally fit person with a gun in their hand is of no threat to the populace, regardless of whether (s)he carries a shotgun, pistol or AK-47; regardless of the capacity of his/her magazine.
The question shouldn’t be the regulating of this gun versus that gun. All can kill in the wrong hands. The real legislation should be centered on the mental well-being of potential gun owners.
It can hardly be considered shocking that the killer from last Friday’s massacre (whose name I will not use because I refuse to play a part in his infamy) obtained all of his weapons legally. That’s the problem with the current policy of backgrounds checks: crazy people have to have done something incredibly crazy before they are ineligible to own a gun. Sometimes the first public expression of insanity call kill and/or injure 70 people.
At least we know that he’ll never get a second opportunity, but how long will it be before another depraved mind takes their first in a deadly way? Going by past history, nowhere near long enough.
How could anyone of sound mind deny that mental screenings should be a prerequisite for all first time gun owners? In a world where funding for mental health treatment continues to erode, and more and more people remain untreated or undiagnosed, it’s more important than ever to keep these potentially deadly tools from unsafe hands.
I once dated a woman for many years. Throughout that time her paranoia and unstable behavior grew until it culminated in the most frightening display I’ve ever witnessed; something which still gives me nightmares to this day. She ripped a handful of hair out of her head and threw it at me. She was giggling as she did it. After we broke up, she became quite the gun enthusiast. Before I pushed her out of my life for good a couple years back, she wrote blogs nearly fetishizing the expanded capacity clip she’d obtained for her Glock, and was excited to soon acquire her concealed weapons permit.
I don’t feel that the world is a safer place with guns legally in the hands of those who are mentally unfit. I doubt anyone in this world does. Perhaps it’s time to start preventing them from doing so.