Only In America

I try to avoid political and otherwise inflammatory subjects here not least because there are so many voices on the internet, so many of which state things better than I am able. However, the recent shooting in Aurora, Colorado, has me saddened and incensed to the point where I feel I must say something. Even if only to just get the thoughts out of my head, I have to write this.

My first thoughts go to the pain and terror felt by the victims of this crime. And then, naturally, to their parents and loved ones. I have not been touched personally by a tragedy of this sort and so can only guess, and poorly I assume, at what any of them went through in that theater or are going through now. I do know that the mere thought of it scares me to the core.

The real tragedy, I feel, is that the entire event was completely preventable. Not one bullet should have ever been fired because no one should ever be able to purchase an assault rifle and thousands of rounds of ammunition. No one. The simple fact is that if one cannot obtain these kind of firearms one cannot use them to kill. And let's not kid ourselves. The only reason for these weapons, and for the 100 round clip the shooter had attached to his assault rifle, is to kill human beings.

Only in America can someone walk into a Gander Mountain store and purchase an AR-15. This type of mass shooting has happened in other countries, notably Australia and Norway. But only in the United States is this type of event routine. Unsurprising. Everyday.

Other countries care enough about their citizens to say, 'No. You may want these guns. But you cannot be trusted with them when the lives of your fellow citizens are at stake. These firearms are dangerous and unnecessary and we will not have them here.'

The prevailing opinion I have read today is that this is a horrible tragedy and a horrible state of affairs but nothing will change and this will happen again and again and again. These authors have every reason to feel this way. We as a nation have proven time and again that these shootings, from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Aurora, actually mean very little to us. Sure, we are suitably sad for a few days and have nasty debates on twitter and facebook but we do nothing. We never make the changes that the events demand of us. Then we are shocked when the next shooting happens.

Most likely that's what will happen here as well. We will forget about this one just like all the others and feel appropriately sad the next time. Our leaders and politicians will pander to our sensibilities by praying for the victims and then get back to the business of not pissing off the right wing and the gun lobby by actually doing anything about it.

But maybe we will start to see how preposterous our lack of action on gun violence is. Maybe some politician will step up and take on this cause for the benefit of us all over the interests of the lobbyists and the extremists. Maybe enough Americans will say, with their votes, that this is an important issue. That we no longer feel safe in this country and that it has to stop.

I am not optimistic about anything changing. But I am hopeful. I am hopeful that one day our kids will go to school without even the remotest concern about their fellow students gunning them down. I am hopeful that we will look back on these events as a tragic lesson that finally woke us up and made us take a stand.

Note: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today called out Mitt Romney and President Obama on this issue stating they need to tell the American people, 'specifically, what are they going to do about guns?'

Some links I hope you will find relevant:

AP sources: Suspect bought guns in last 2 months

The Certainty of More Shootings

One More Massacre

We’ve Seen This Movie Before

Battleground America

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence