Those Americans who would like an open debate on the subject, and a chance to develop reasonable and effective solutions to our gun violence problem, are in despair. Many feel the nation is at a political impasse.
Aurora has reminded us that lament is sorely lacking in our land. Our faith communities are faced with a prime opportunity to recover the practice of lament and point us toward a society that is more compassionate and humane.
The infantile habit of binary thinking (good or evil, right or wrong, gay or straight) is one of the major curses in almost all civilizations. Voters deserve not a mysterious good, nor an unfathomable evil, but the naked facts.
We religious leaders frequently and publicly lament the ongoing bloodshed in Afghanistan, Syria and other parts of the world. Yet, during the course of the past 30 years there have been more than 1 million gun deaths in this country, most of them preventable.
Almost all Americans would agree that dangerously mentally ill individuals, possibly like James Holmes, and like Tucson shooter Jared Loughner (who was found incompetent to stand trial because of paranoid schizophrenia) should not be able to legally purchase firearms.
In a sense, we suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder on a national scale, but do nothing to heal as a society or to prevent these killings from happening again. We have become a traumatized country, paralyzed by norms and values that result in condoning violence.
We want solutions that will save lives. We are willing to put aside our political differences to find them. We know we are better than this. Now we must hold our elected officials accountable to show that they are too.
The hope is that if we can isolate the factor that pushes some people to murder their fellow citizens, perhaps we can alter our social environment and reduce the likelihood that these terrible acts will be repeated in the future. The only problem is, which one could it be?
One obvious question raised by the student campaigns to carry concealed weapons is whether the death tolls in any of these massacres would have been lower if the teachers, tutors or moviegoers had been able to shoot back?
People often ask me what it's like to live in Israel, with constant, existential threats. It's frightening.
We are in a situation that demands objective scrutiny and attention. This focus can provide the impartial information that our elected officials and we need to arm ourselves and to stand our ground to defend our "inalienable rights" as citizens not just the right to bear arms.
It started when police shot an unarmed man while chasing him down an alley. The circumstances surrounding the incident remain unclear, but we know the young man's name: Manuel Angel Diaz, 25. He was pronounced dead that night at a local hospital.
The Aurora massacre has provoked fears of life-threatening vulnerability and a desperate concern to prevent another mass slaying. Can a pragmatic solution be found? And if so, what? If not, how can we allay our existential fears?
America has become a killing machine that appears to be outside of society; beyond critique. We accept unchallengeable abstractions, fictions, and look the other way as more die.
"In a place where there are no heroes -- be a hero!" This 2,000-year-old challenge by Hillel the Elder, whom many consider to have been Jesus' rabbi, is a staple of Jewish learning. But how does one do this?
Here we are again, reading names. Piecing together life stories from the snapshots and accompanying biographical summaries. Here we are again in another "there but for the Grace of God Go I" moment.