In the wake of the tragic shootings in Aurora, Colorado, President Obama cut short his campaign schedule and issued a call for unity. At an abbreviated stop in Florida, the president said:
I am so moved by your support, but there are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.
Good luck with that.
Our media and political environment don’t allow for reflection on much of anything in the best of times. What do you think is going to happen during an election year?
The Wall Street Journal is already wondering if this shooting is going to cause increased focus on gun laws. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has come out and said that both President Obama (whose administration has done nothing to restrict guns) and Mitt Romney need to clarify their positions on gun regulations. Meanwhile conservatives are criticizing anybody who brings up gun control for trying to “politicize” the moment.
I believe that tragedies are a bad time to make policy, and I choose to believe that no law could have stopped the actions of a madman who wants to kill teenagers in a movie theater. As Alfred said: “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” The suspect, James Holmes, allegedly had his hair painted and claimed he was the Joker.
I don’t think gun restrictions would have stopped this man (which doesn’t mean we had to make it easy for him).
If we’re going to reflect on something today, I’m not sure it’s useful to reflect on our laws, instead maybe we should reflect on our culture…
One of the victims was on television this morning saying that when the gunman burst into the theater, wearing what she described as a gas mask and a Kevlar vest. She said that at first she thought it was part of the show. Even when the man rolled a gas canister down the row (and, again, we can discuss later why gas canisters are legal) many thought the it was part of the movie. Only when he started shooting at the ceiling did everybody realize something was horribly wrong.
That’s a story from a culture that celebrates violence, especially gun violence.
It’s worth noting, I think, that the movie everybody was there to see was Batman. One of the reasons we know Batman is a hero is that he doesn’t use guns. He’s a “muscular genius” (according to Phil Dunphy), but he doesn’t use firearms.
But everybody else in the movie does. In fact, one of the ways we know we’re watching a comic book movie is that comic book heroes are seemingly the only people in our country who don’t need guns in order to get things done. And, sorry tight-ass parents, but the violence is not just in our movies or video games. The signature achievement of our current president is probably the assassination of America’s primary enemy.
Why do we believe that you need a superpower in order to live your lives and defend your values without guns?
Our gun laws are the result of our gun culture. Fighting against our lax regulations, or blindly supporting the rights of gun owners, seems to me to miss the point today.