“Throughout the history of mass gun killings in America…” is a phrase I never want to hear again, but as the meta-indication of the phrase denotes, I definitely will. This time, as with so many times before, a former FBI profiler used it while being interviewed by a cable news anchor whose actual expertise for his network is early morning political analysis, not breaking gun murder news. As such it was not surprising, yet slightly disingenuous, when he called Aurora, Colorado an American suburb straight from central casting. I do however, know what he meant: that Aurora could be any American suburb, we all know that town, that strip mall, that theatre multiplex with the stadium seating and the THX sound system. Any one of us could have been in that midnight show of the new Batman last night. We are all from central casting, and we all know this script by heart. The coverage goes something like this, I will bullet point it for you, pun intended:
- Heavily armed, likely mentally ill young man walks into a crowded public space and opens fire.
- The victims are all age ranges, from the very young to the very old. It’s always the kids dying that really makes us sick. The first responders are deft and often heroic. The shooter is either killed or subdued and brought into custody.
- Cable news scrambles to get the facts straight, sometimes they screw up badly like when NPR prematurely announced the death of Representative Gabrielle Giffords after her attack last January, and the TV news went with the unverified reports. They start interviewing surviving or merely wounded victims who give their eyewitness accounts using phrases like, “it sounded like firecrackers” or “it seemed like a movie” or “I slipped on some blood.”
- We cut to the news conferences and endless interviews of police authorities, the chiefs of surgery, the friend who knew a guy who had a class with the shooter, the open carry advocates, the gun control supporters.
- We shake our heads and fight back tears and swallow the mouth sweats down hard.
- We remember the last one and we always, ALWAYS remember Columbine.
- Some of us start pleading for more gun control, but weak to do anything, we can only unfriend the person in our Facebook list we didn’t realize was an NRA talking points automaton.
- We feel like shooting someone.
Why is this happening again? WHY? What the hell is wrong with us that we cannot, as community members, Coloradoans, Americans, as HUMAN BEINGS, once and for all stop with the free flow of guns in our country?
My mother has a gun. MY MOTHER HAS A GUN. I do not agree with this at all and I tell her every single chance I get that she is part of the problem. Before you start parsing the 2nd Amendment and talk to me about hunting, let me make the uniquely American statement that if you are a hunter who uses guns to kill your animal prey and you keep those guns locked up in a vault and your ammunition is kept separately and also locked and you have registered those guns and maintain the good working order of those guns, I am not talking to you. I am talking to my mother and the millions of Americans who own handguns because they feel they the need to protect themselves. You people, the legal gun owners, are the enablers of our entire gun problem. There, I said it.
My heart should not have to go out to the victims, or their loved ones, or the theatre staff, or the first responders, or the doctors, surgeons and nurses, or the mental health professionals, or the good people of my first home state of Colorado who are dealing first hand with this attack on their sanity and security. My heart should be celebrating for the everyday triumphs of all the aforementioned, none of whom I know, but are all part of my central cast. My uniquely American central cast. I will of course, share my heart with those who are most in need.
And then, I will use my brain:
***Updated: My mom and I have had a long talk about this post. I got very emotional in telling her again how much I don’t like her gun. In her words to me, “I love you. We are okay.”