The terrible shooting in Aurora, Colorado, claimed the lives of twelve people and wounded fifty-eight others, yet another ominous example of how violence and terrorist acts are seemingly becoming a part of life in America in historic proportions. What happened in a crowded theatre early Saturday morning in Colorado was unprecedented in the history of this nation.
Such acts of violence appear to come all too frequently these days. Less than two years ago, a crazed gunman killed and wounded innocent people in Tucson, Arizona. His motive remains unclear as he is confined to a mental health facility.
These events, more and more, call into question whether Americans — crazed or not — are resorting to violence to express or solve their grievances, bypassing or blaming the rules of due process that our form of government affords.
We do not know what motivated the killer in Tucson and we do not know what motivated the killer in Aurora. We do not know whether it was mental illness or wanton terrorism. We may never know. But past acts of violence provide us clues.
In 1996, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma where more than 160 unsuspecting men, women, and children lost their lives because some crazed former US Marine thought it fitting justice to take an arbitrary number of innocent lives as retaliation for government siege that cost the lives of those at Waco, Texas. In some warped and sick notion, Timothy McVeigh and his cohorts thought they were upholding some revolutionary American principle in the American way.
A year later, two teenage boys, feeling alienated, disenfranchised, unaccepted in the well-to-do suburban community of Littleton, Colorado, plotted to kill all of their schoolmates and teachers. They succeeded in taking thirteen lives before they took their own.
These extraordinary acts, like bugle calls and blaring sirens, made us pause, take notice perhaps for a spell. But what about the litany of other warning signs that occurred since then?
What could have been done to detect the intent of James Holmes? What could have been done to prevent the killing and injurious rampage in a crowded theatre of innocent unsuspecting victims in Aurora, Colorado?
As we reflect on these catastrophic events, could it possibly be a turning point for us too seriously consider doing something about the consequences our tolerance and glorification of violence has wrought?
There seems to be a continuous unfolding of violence, occurring in disparate places with no respect of age, race, or ethnic origin. There have been shootings or attempted shootings in schools — from grade schools to colleges, in neighborhoods, in shopping centers, and other places throughout the past decade and that continue to this day.
Oh how we forget. Unfortunately, the shooting in the Aurora theatre has us once again concerned. But, for how long?
What will it take for us to heed the signs? Too seriously address those sociological issues that have made children and young adults alike comfortable in choosing to commit violent acts as casually as they would chose to participate in a sport.
We can assign blame in many places. We can blame the gory violence brought into the family room by network and cable TV. We can blame the movie and entertainment industries. We can blame the toy and gaming industry. We can blame irresponsible and absent parents. We can blame violent and crime infested neighborhoods and home environments. We can blame it on pandering politicians who lack the backbone to develop and pass effective legislation as well as enforce the laws already on the books to address legal and illegal access to guns, screenings for mental stability, etc.
How much more will it take for us to do something about it? Something meaningful, something real, and something that will stem the tide of violence that is in danger of redefining our way of life in America.
Will we be content to look over our shoulders every time we venture beyond our doors?