Friday, July 20, 2012

Aurora, Colorado, Theater Shooting

As being reported by local news, a man, James Holmes donned in armor, a gas mask, and ballistics helmet, entered a theater in Aurora, CO (USA) and shot 71 people, with twelve hits quickly turning fatal, another 9 people in critical condition as of this writing. The gathering of people was for a midnight showing of a new movie, "Dark Night Rising". His method apparently included disbursal of chemical irritant and putting several shots into the ceiling to make people scatter, thereforeby become better targets in the process of running. The assailant's residence, an apartment, was booby trapped with incendiary devices, and left with a slightly ajar door and loud music repeating incessantly to provoke someone to entry; another resident reports that a visitor (his girlfriend) nearly entered the apartment around the same time that the shooting elsewhere began, about 12:15am, due to the music which had started at around midnight, but called police instead, who could neither respond at the time nor know that the disturbance was at the apartment of the then still unknown assailant. Local and federal officials are working to methodically disarm the apartment and complex of the attacker, which has largely been evacuated: likewise for places regularly attended by the suspect at a school in his studies.

Local police responded to the report of a shooting in under two minutes, twenty five or so arriving at the theater within one and a half minutes, but for the unusual inclusion of a chemical component to the attack, could not immediately enter the affected areas of the building. The suspect attempted to flee from a back door he had earlier exited in order to make a re-entry to the building through the back possible by preventing it from closing.


That's the report so far. This event took place in a theater at the Aurora Mall, not far from where I used to live, and had lived for years. The Aurora Mall was a nice place for a bored kid to go on an off day, though more dangerous than many other malls due to the area's culture: we all knew this. This attacker, however, was a transplant from elsewhere, so the area culture does not explain his actions.

In the United States every able bodied man of age is actually a part of the militia, and given the second amendment protection of people's right to keep (have) and bear (wield effectively) arms, I am curious why no others (male or female, actually) else in the theater had a communications device to respond to the attacker: perhaps some did, but simply decided against given the armor.

In the United States we have come to expect that events like this will quickly elicit responses from lobbies against that right, which may not be able to nullify it totally, but can convince government officers to ignore its total prohibition of any prohibition of either keeping or bearing arms, and narrow and render ineffective the right to effective weaponry. The counter narrative is always a reasonable one, that to remove or reduce these rights, restrict them to homes, permit carry but only unloaded, and so forth do nothing to actually prevent people who do not abide by the law from ignoring such ideal, wishful thinking that such regulation will deter or reduce crime: in reality it renders lawful people less safe.

We have a strange culture in the United States that many times those who lawfully obtain both weapons and training are also those unlikely to be a general threat to others: many times they are people who wish to protect others. General regulations that render them less ready to respond to unlawful men simply endanger us all. We are not a nation that accepts claims that total prohibition would do anything to make us safer, given criminals simply don't care, and would procure arms for themselves and wield them with far more effectiveness and boldness knowing that lawful men cannot effectively offer comparable threats or force.

In the end I see two very important (principal) truths about this event:

One is the common sense fact that by lack of people (among the crowd targeted) exercising a right that is now becoming almost totally infringed or nullified around the rest of the globe, one that millions across the globe who comply with authority would probably engage immediately if permitted by their authorities, one safeguarded in the highest law of our land over two hundred years ago amidst the same controversy of those who would permit and those who would forbid that common people possess weapons capable even of overthrowing their own government (Americans--indeed private citizens, used rifles and canons quite well against the British), those among the victims or near to them were incapable of defense and disabling a single violent man far outnumbered by those he sought to murder. I have a buddy, socially very liberal, actually, but one who regards our Constitution, for its design with the best interests of the people and not government or governments in mind (or given precedence), who actually shames people who have certain levels of income (I actually don't myself) for failing to save a few months' spending cash which could be put toward acquisition and proper training in use of at least one effective weapon.

The second is simply that murder at any time is a tragedy, and that condolences and support for victims and their societies (family, friends, neighbors) is in order, and what love requires. It will be some time before I and other family members learn whether anybody in that theater is an old friend or acquaintance: we hope not, but even if no connection of ours is affected, that still won't eviscerate the gut weight, that sinking and sick feeling, that comes with knowing that without announcement or justification, a man opened fire on defenseless people to cause harm, with the worst result, that some were robbed of life itself.

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