On July 20th, Roger Ebert wrote an article about the Aurora, Colorado theatre shooting. He had a lot to say about James Holmes, mass shootings, and the government’s inaction in response to citizens abusing their second amendment rights. Many of the statements that Ebert said sound like speculation, but some appear to have some grounding. According to him, Holmes the suspect in custody, opened fire in the movie theatre for the publicity. Ebert says, “I don’t know if James Holmes cared deeply about Batman. I suspect he cared deeply about seeing himself on the news” (NYtimes.com). While this is a definite possibility of motive, nothing can be said for sure. Americans everywhere watched today as the first live footage of Holmes was released as he met in court today with his public defender and a judge. His dyed hair and strange demeanor perplexed viewers.
This leads people to make assumptions and drastic rationale for why anyone would commit such a heinous act. In an interview on CNN’s “In The Newsroom” with Brooke Baldwin, Dave Cullen warns not to make hasty conclusions without gathering all the details. He wrote the book “Columbine” on the other infamous Colorado shooting (CNN.com). Ebert’s theory of motive for mass shootings has to do with the publicity that we ourselves are guilty of perpetuating. He says, “Whenever a tragedy like this takes place, it is assigned catchphrases and theme music, and the same fragmentary TV footage of the shooter is cycled again and again. Somewhere in the night, among those watching, will be another angry, aggrieved loner who is uncoiling toward action” (NYtimes.com). In an interview with Anderson Cooper, the father of victim, Alex Teves, challenged major news companies like CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC to stop giving the “coward” airtime and focus solely on the victims and their families (CNN). I can’t help but agree with the idea behind this grieving father’s statement. I do believe that the amount of time we give the man behind the shooting is excessive.
In the coming weeks, the news will shift to the now white hot debate about gun control. President Obama is going to receive lots of criticism on his lack of talk about guns. And Mitt Romney is already getting questioned about his repeal of the law he passed as governor of Massachusetts banning the purchase of automatic weapons. Many critics say that changing gun laws is not the solution because criminals break laws. To them I argue, would making it more difficult to acquire guns and ammunition be a bad thing? Would it prevent all shootings, no. But this would be a step in the right direction. We have laws to prevent people from buying large volumes of fertilizer, over the counter drinks, why not ammunition. Roger Ebert says this about future steps, “This would be an excellent time for our political parties to join together in calling for restrictions on the sale and possession of deadly weapons” (NYtimes.com). I agree. We should stop fussing about our differences and like the resilient city of Aurora, unite together and through legislation do what is necessary to keep safety at the foreground of the conversation.