We all react to different types of news stories in different ways. I like harrowing stories about a person who overcomes the odds and beats cancer. I feel utterly exhausted when I hear stories about the presidential election. But then there are stories that I don’t know how to handle. Like today. Less than an hour south of where I live, I man walked into the midnight release of The Dark Knight Rises and shot more than 60 people. 12 are dead. If you haven’t seen the story, click here.
I feel like I react to shootings differently than most people. I don’t know if that is actually the case. I start off like most people. There is an overwhelming confusion about how someone could do such a horrible thing. The how is what gets me. I know in the days ahead, everyone will be asking the why. Why did he shoot a six year old and kill her? Why did he pick that theatre? Why a random attack? The questions are endless.
But my question is: How? I literally do not understand how someone picks up a gun and shoots 60 people at random. How can your internal working be so fucked up that you do not understand what you are doing is wrong. Or do you understand what you are doing is wrong—but you just want to go out with a bang? If that is the case, why not just commit suicide? How is killing a dozen people and striking fear into the movie-watching nation better?
My confusion transforms quite quickly. I spent an hour this morning holding back tears as I read the reports. I do not know anyone involved…but I feel like I could. They are right there. As I wonder about the dead, the injured, the mothers, father, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, and friends of each victim, I start to realize that something like this will dramatically affect the people of this state and this country. So many people are touched. I don’t know anyone involved and I am still deeply saddened.
Is it wrong that my thoughts quickly turn to anger? I live in a country where our second amendment rights are closely guarded. Although I live in this country, I do not share those beliefs. Guns scare me. The destruction that they cause is absolutely frightening. My problem, however, is not that people own guns. It’s that everything around owning a gun is easy. People with mental disorders—such as the man responsible for the Tucson Massacre—are not restricted from owning guns. Why would we allow someone who is proven mentally unstable to own a gun?
Then there is the extended clip. I do not know the specifics about the gun here in Colorado. But in Tucson, where Gabby Giffords and many other were shot, the shooter used a gun with a modified clip. The extended clip allowed him to continue shooting without reloading for an extended about of time. I can only imagine the same type of thing is responsible here in Colorado. How does a man get at least 60 shots off?
I grow angry because the fixes are easy and our government does nothing. Why can they not agree that extended clips are dangerous and make them illegal? Why can’t they agree and put restrictions on ownership of guns for people with proven track records of mental instability? It angers me to such a level that our Congressmen and candidates bicker as the people of this country die in disgusting ways.
Supermarkets. Schools. Movie theatres. We are supposed to feel safe in these places. But the laws of the land no longer reflect the mentality of the land. I am scared. I literally cannot bring myself to go see the Dark Knight Rises this weekend. I love movies, but I cannot understand this…and thus don’t feel like I know how to react to it. I want to feel safe. I know we cannot be protected from everything without sacrificing certain right. But let me make something blatantly clear. I am okay sacrificing certain liberties regarding guns and the second amendment in order to feel safe again.
Each state of our union is unique. Colorado is no different. We dislike taxes. We like guns. However, do not label us conservatives. We voted heavily for democrats over the last three elections. We may become the first state to legalize weed in the upcoming election. I’ve grown up in Colorado as I’ve slowly learned these strange subtleties. But today the question has changed. What is going on with guns in Colorado?
Colorado is now known for two of the strangest and deadliest shootings in our nation’s history. Columbine. This morning’s Aurora Theatre Shooting. We are also known for some of the most lax gun laws in the nation (see here). Living in Fort Collins, I am constantly reminded that a lawsuit by students at Colorado State University made it legal for students across our state to pack while on campus. I can’t say for sure that our lax laws and our horrific shootings are linked…but I have a hard time believing this would have happened if we had stronger gun laws.
In the end, what gets me about the shootings in Colorado is the feeling of safety. There are certain places you go in life that you expect to feel safe. Today, I saw The Dark Knight Rises at a Cinemark theatre just because I was afraid to. I wanted to give the gunman a giant “Fuck You” and get past my fear. The thing is, that isn’t always the case. My sister was in middle school when Columbine happened. I didn’t quite understand what was happening in my youth. She did. She had a hard time returning to school after the shooting.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this massacre is far reaching. I’ve already been called out more than once for turning this massacre into a debate about gun control. My reaction is simple: get over it. I am angry. I feel like I am affected by this situation just as much as the average Coloradoan does. This debate about guns needs to happen until our candidates for State Congress, US Congress, and President understand that we do not like the laws the way they are now. They need to get out of the pocket of the NRA and back in touch with their constituents.
We the people cannot let this happen again.
Not on our watch.