It’s been a couple of days now since James Holmes decided to take the lives of a dozen people, and crushed the lives of countless more. I haven’t seen a complete list of the wounded, but there is a slight modicum of relief in my house (tempered, of course, by the deep sadness we feel for the victims and their families) that none of the dead are/were either mine or my wife’s students.
And I’ve had time to ponder how long it will be before the event becomes politicized.
Because you know it will be. It always is.
Up until this morning, all the talk I’d heard was in reference to the need for more gun control. It’s a sentiment I completely understand. If no one had the weapons to do these things, after all, this very likely wouldn’t have happened. Others, of course, take the opposite tack, claiming that if there were other armed moviegoers, someone would have put this guy down as soon as he started shooting.
They’re both wrong, of course.
See, my wife was very excited this year. It was to be her first year teaching in Aurora without one of her students being shot. Some of them have been shot with legal weapons, others with illegal ones. The fact is, though, that guns exist and if people want to use them to kill one another, they’re going to and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. It’s just like the drug war, illegal immigration, or performance enhancing drugs in sports. People always find a way to do the things they really want to do, and come hell or high water they’re God damned going to do it. And sometimes they’re not right in the head, so what they really want to do is harm others.
So, say pro-gun talkers, we should have an armed population who can take these crazy bastards out when they snap. And on the surface, thanks to our Hollywood training, that almost makes sense. But Hollywood isn’t reality. I’ve met a lot of hard right gun nuts in my life, and unless they have military or police training, they’re no better in these situations than anyone else. You know what most of these people would do in last Thursday’s circumstances? Same thing everyone else did. They’d panic, be terrified, and try like hell to get as far away from a heavily armed mass murderer as they possibly could. And make no mistake, that’s the smart thing to do. Certainly better than some vigilante John McClain wannabe opening fire in a crowded, panicky, smoky theater with a lunatic in full body armor. You’d have to be an idiot to think that’s a good idea.
So what can we do,then, to make sure this never happens again?
As proven by Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, crazy and fucked up can’t be stopped. These assholes are planning to protest and picket the prayer vigil being held tonight at 6:30 in Aurora. And no one can do anything about it. And no one should.
Thing is, crazy in the form of James Holmes and crazy in the form of Fred Phelps are inevitable. It sucks, horribly, beyond any words available in any language. But there’s no getting around it. People sometimes do awful, despicable things, and when they’re dead set on doing it there’s not anything that can be done to prevent it.
So we must suffer them, and offer whatever help we can to the people affected by such tragic, repulsive behavior. It’s all we can do. For my part, I’m giving my blood, since local blood banks are running out due to Thursday’s tragedy.
The human condition is a tragic one. Maybe one day we’ll all know better, and things like this won’t happen any more. But all we can do is hope and wait patiently for that day. Until then, please, let’s just do what we can to try and alleviate the suffering of the victims of horrible events like this.