Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shooting in Aurora

I'm angry. I'm really, truly, incredibly, thoroughly angry.

The shooting at the Batman premiere in Aurora, Colorado has me absolutely seething. I don't live in Aurora, I don't personally know anyone shot or killed in Aurora, but I'm furious. For many reasons, my heart is broken, and my chest clenches up when I think of this atrocity.

I'm angry because this could have happened to any one of us. It happened in Aurora, but it could have happened in Anytown, USA. The facade of Century 16 is almost identical to Albuquerque's Century 24, where I see virtually all of my movies. This movie is an attraction I could have easily attended with my teenage siblings. We go to midnight premieres for exciting movies all the time. I could have been one of the unsuspecting people in the theater that night, and I probably wouldn't have made it out alive. I am, by nature, an incredibly protective big sister, and no doubt would have jumped on top of my siblings - not out of a desire for heroism, but out of pure mama bear instinct. I'm gripped with fear when I think of other sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, boyfriends, girlfriends, and children just like me who had to make the decision to play dead or to run, to leave a friend bleeding or to stay and apply pressure to the wound amongst gunfire and screams from the injured.

The movies are meant to be a form of escape. One man tried to take away the one place we still feel safe. We live in a society full of exhausted, over worked, overly media exposed people reeling from one of the worst economies since the Great Depression. My generation, especially, is dealing with a situation unlike what our parents and grandparents knew. It's less safe than ever and we're more exposed to the constant violence via 24 hour news stations and immediate news from Twitter feeds. Mass shootings are still horrific, but they're becoming more normal. Normal in the sense that we have seen them happen over and over, we're horrified every time, and yet we forget how it feels when the next senseless tragedy hits the news station.

I understand that for many now is not the time to discuss gun control, and I agree. The time to discuss gun control is long past, and LONG overdue. I know the many of the victims and the victims' families don't want to have the gun control talk now because they're in the midst of grieving and recovery, however the rest of us need to talk about it because our society is one based on immediacy. We have such a small window before the news stations leave Aurora and start focusing on the next celebrity divorce.

 How can anyone, honestly, look at this situation and believe that our gun laws are sound? With this said, I'm all for the right to bear arms to defend yourself. I believe it's a right we should have, especially in a world with such violence. I'll tell you right now that my grandmother would not hesitate to use her tiny handgun to shoot an intruder or an attacker in our home, and I would back her up full force. HOWEVER, I'm not talking about taking away the right to bear arms. I'm talking about gun control.

How is it that I'm unable to buy Sudafed D without having to show an ID, getting tracked in a computer system, and promising my first born child, yet someone with clear mental issues (although, I do not believe he was too unstable to know right from wrong, and should be held fully accountable for his actions) was able to purchase an assault rifle, a glock, a shotgun, a 100 round drum magazine, 6000 rounds of ammo, a gas mask, ballistic leggings, a bullet proof vest, a throat protector and a groin protector and no one was the wiser? Not to mention everything it's taken to fully booby-trap his apartment, including chemicals, explosives, incendiary devices, etc.

There have to be changes in how guns are distributed and sold in our country. I understand that people will say that a criminal will find a way, but why not make it a bit more difficult? This coward (I refuse to use his name because he doesn't deserve the attention) was able to LEGALLY purchase his arsenal, without anyone knowing, tracking him or being red-flagged. Why does ANYONE need an assault rifle outside of a war zone? It's very name makes it known that it's meant for ASSAULT. Who needs a 100-round drum magazine, outside of a war zone? I can't imagine hunters need it. If you need 100 rounds to be fired in under 60 seconds, you might be the worst hunter on earth. Time for a new hobby.

It's easy to say that guns don't kill people, people kill people... until someone you know (three in my case) is killed by a person with a gun. The reality is that mass shooters come in all shapes, sizes, and mental competencies - but the common denominator is the gun.

You may think I'm some hippie pacifist who doesn't understand. Look, I've shot guns. I learned to shoot a rifle with my uncle at the age of 6, at our cabin in the mountains. I shot some surly looking soda cans. I even learned to shoot much larger guns at a range with a host family two years ago. The father was a former police officer.  I get the appeal, however, a few enjoyable moments of shooting bowling pins and targets doesn't make me think that we're better off with such open access to guns. We're required to attend classes, take tests, be monitored by a driving instructor and register with the state for a permit, provisional and license in order to drive a car. A car might kill you going 100mph, a bullet at 800.

Another argument is that even in Norway, where guns aren't prevalent, there was a horrible mass killing last year. Yes. There was. No denying it. However, were they not horribly shocked, because generally their country is not a violent one? When was the last time we were generally shocked to hear of a shooting? We come to expect them every now and again. Why not try to curb the violence? Why not bring SOME control to an industry that is wildly out of control?

With all of this said, I want to mention how incredibly proud I am of all of the people who came to eachother's aid during this shooting. There were boyfriends who lost their lives protecting their girlfriends. There were friends jumping on top of friends, refusing to leave their side. There were strangers helping to save families. Service members who dragged out the body of their friend, because you never leave a man down.  THIS is what needs to be remembered. THIS is who we really are. We cannot allow one coward with stupid hair to represent human nature.

I'm so proud of the police in Aurora for showing up so quickly, in an orderly fashion, and even taking people in their squad cars to hospitals, knowing that it was a necessary step, and they could not wait for ambulances. Their police Chief Oates did an incredible job informing the public, and even showing his pride for his team.

I'm proud of our politicians for taking a break on the ridiculous campaign antics, and focusing on the victims.

I'm proud of people like Jordan Ghawi, who lost his sister Jessica, for being such a strong pillar for his family and an advocate for all of the victims' families. I'm proud of him for ASKING that the coward's name not be used in broadcasts. He even asked the President of the United States of America NOT to use the coward's name. That's strength. The same goes for Alex Teves' father, Tom, who came to the coward's arraignment, sat in the front row, and stared him down.

I'm proud of various media, namely Anderson Cooper, for truly sticking by their word, and not using the coward's name in their broadcasts.

I'm proud of Aurora for coming together in a time of great sorrow, and representing Colorado well.

I'm so incredibly sorry for the loss of lives, and for the people who have a long recovery ahead of them - but in tragedies like this one, where one person can bring evil onto so many others - I'm uplifted at the thought of how much love can be shown within a community. <3