There is not much profit in expatiating once again on the perils of an armed-to-the-teeth populace in the United States—thanks to the National Rifle Association (NRA). We all know the false mantra that has become so sickening in our time: guns don’t kill, people do. If you want to read chapter and verse about this organized insanity, check out Saturday’s Reader Supported News piece by Matthew Chapman, “What Will it Take for Americans to Reject the NRA?” I also just saw an interesting statistic from a similar piece today: there are 58 murders a year by firearms in Britain, and 8,775 in the United States.
For me, though, the Aurora, Colorado massacre evokes other sadnesses and ironies. To begin with, isn’t it fitting that a 24-year-old all-honors grad student should enter a theatre premiering the latest violence fantasy, style himself as The Joker, and open fire on the crowd? Batman in the films based on the comic is always battling evil geniuses—the Joker being the most memorable—who commit virtually motiveless violence. They’re just evil. James Holmes seems to be, or want to be, one of these. No one had done him any harm. He doesn’t seem to have been psychologically maimed in any obvious way—indeed, his latest project was investigating the "Biological Basis of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders." And yet, he carefully plans his murderous spree, entering the theater normally, exiting from a side exit whose door he carefully leaves ajar, arms himself with assault weapons, tear gas, body armor and a gas mask, and re-enters to begin his slaughter of people he knows nothing about. He apparently just wanted to kill people.