As a major Batman fan and the father of two young children, I'm sick of the platitudes we hear after every mass shooting. "Our hearts are broken," read the headline of the Denver Post. And they are. But should it end at that?
As James Fallows pointed out in an interview last weekend: "Mentally disturbed people exist around world, and they do horrific things, and they claim lots of victims. But what is impressive is that every place else, this has led to some kind of control and restriction, which has prevented recurrences."
But not in America, where both presidential candidates can't touch the question of how to fix the problem. Here, instead, we cling to the big lie that more freedom of weaponry will eventually solve the problem. But how free are the dead in Aurora? What about their rights to life, liberty, and happiness? Some day, we are told, a trained person with a concealed carry permit will cut the violence short. There is much talk about that in the rural Colorado valley in which I live. But that never happens. Very few people have permits. Most don't carry their weapon to a movie theater or a school. And typical gun owners aren't trained as commandos to deal with the incredibly tricky task of 1) figuring out what the heck is going on in a shooting, and then 2) killing the right person with a hard-to-aim handgun.
There have been 22 mass shootings in 2012 alone. After Aurora, platitudes can no longer salve our wounds and heartache, and empty and clueless NRA jingoism about freedom can no longer guide our future. It's time America had a public conversation, fostered by governors and the president, both of whom we elected to lead, not talk, geared at finding and then implementing a solution. The discussion should be civil, friendly, bipartisan, open, courteous and fierce. It should have a policy end goal. All options should be on the table, from gun control, to arming everyone, to better helping the mentally ill. Given this state's past and tragic present, Colorado might as well be the place to start. This act of seizing our future is the one thing we can do to ease the pain of victim's families. If our leaders genuinely believe, as they say, that this must never happen again, then let's make that hope reality.
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