To begin, let me just say that, on behalf of all of us at the Addison Recorder, I would like to offer our condolences to all of the victims of the shooting that happened early this morning at the movie theatre in Aurora, CO. These murders are horrifying, a senseless act of violence that might seem like a vast impossibility, and because of the nature of this particular act, many of us around the nation, and the world, are in a deep state of mourning today.
There are many things to be said about this attack. I want to try and keep from politicizing the nature of the event, casting blame about, and making this into something more than it is. Lord knows that I want to rant about several things, and I’ve struggled with this in my mind as I sit down to write out my thoughts and feelings. Therefore, I apologize if this gets wordy, windy, or overly dramatic. If you wish to avoid such thoughts (though I’m trying to avoid getting preachy), close out now and you won’t have to suffer through my thoughts.
To start, I can’t believe that this happened at a movie theatre. The movies are where people go to escape from everyday life. It’s where we go to celebrate with others, to share in stories that are best experienced in a shared environment. We can go to a movie about terrorists, or about superheroes, or about silly Ice Age mammals struggling to draw out a franchise because at the end of the day, it’s only a movie, and that cannot hurt us in the end. Or it shouldn’t be able to.
It’s especially tragic that this happened during a movie about standing up against darkness, that explores the necessity of fighting against evil, disorder, and chaos, all of which happens in a fantastic environment that could never possibly exist in real life. The Dark Knight Rises has been one of the most hyped, most anticipated of films to be released for a great length of time. People have been following this production anxiously for years, celebrating with others its imminent release. Shoot, there were 9 hour marathon screenings of the first two movies in the series right before the midnight showing of this movie. Everyone in that Aurora movie house had been looking forward to this movie for a long time. I’ll bet you their tickets had been purchased well in advance. Schedules were set, parties were had, lines were formed, and friends met friends to join in what might have been a memorable experience for reasons so much better than what actually took place. Now many of those audience members will be traumatized for a great length of time, some/most of them forever.
You should be able to go to the movies and be in a safe environment. You should be able to live every day in a safe environment. You should not be looking over your shoulder at the man dressed like Heath Ledger or Tom Hardy’s characters wondering if they’re going to lash out at you. You should be able to join with them in joyous celebration; after all, you’re both about to join in on something that all of you truly love. Fantasy and science fiction are escapes into a world that are made for entertainment, to provoke thought and ask questions, not to cross over into real life.
The man who committed this atrocity thought of himself as “the Joker”. Clearly ill of mind, there were no warning signs. People in the theatre thought he was simply part of the crowd. In a meta-narrative, I’ve heard many people say that this sounds like a storyline ripped from the movie. True or not (and it is far too early to tell what this man’s intentions truly were), 12 people are dead because of his actions. 59 wounded. Hundreds traumatized. There is no justification for this at all, no rationality behind this attack. It’s shocking, brutal, and at its core lies a disturbed man who has destroyed countless lives because of his actions.
People have brought up issues of gun control following this attack. Whether semi-automatic rifles should be banned to prevent them from falling into the hands of mentally deranged people like this man. Whether they should not be banned, and whether another person in the audience having a gun in their possession could have helped to stop this from happening. It’s not for me, nor for anyone at the Addison Recorder to say which of these things is true or right.
(I would like to pose one question though: I understand the argument that citizens have the right to own handguns and the ilk; personal protection, outdoor recreation, etc. are all basic rights and enjoyments. As a citizen, I would like to ask what possible use a non-military citizen will ever have for owning a semi-automatic rifle (a gun that automatically reloads every time the trigger is depressed without having to reload/re-cock the rifle) and why semi-automatic weapons are still able to be purchased for private use and possession? I have yet to see any answers that truly satisfy me. Many have tossed around that if someone truly wants to get their hands on a semi-auto weapon, they’ll get it; I then ask why should we make it easier for them to get their hands on one? Others have said that the government has no role or right coming between citizens and their 2nd amendment rights; I ask what a semi-auto fulfills that a simple handgun does not? Speaking as an ardent pacifist, I personally feel that semi-automatic weapons should be banned from private ownership. Automatic weapons are already illegal. Semi-automatics should be the same. No one should be able to own a gun that empties a clip of 100 rounds in 30 seconds. There’s no reason for that.)
What frightens me the most about this is that this shooting happened only 13 miles from the site of the Columbine Massacre, one of the worst public shootings to happen in American history. I’m willing to bet that several, if not many, of those attending the movie last night old enough to remember were affected by that event. I can’t imagine the pain of those who experienced that event to have to experience another shooting of this caliber. It staggers the mind.
I always enjoy the trip home after seeing a movie. I’ve enjoyed many late night screenings of multiple movies (including The Dark Knight many years ago). The movies are a place where we go to escape reality. Not to encounter something out of our darkest nightmares. I sympathize with all of those involved in the shootings, and my prayers and thoughts go out to the victims, their families, and all of their loved ones. This was a day that should have been solely about whether The Dark Knight Rises was worth the hype or not. Now, sadly, it has become about something more for all of us. We know the human spirit to be one founded on resilience; with that in mind, we hope that everyone, especially those involved, will one day recover and rise again to carry on with our lives.