…and so are Basra, Homs and Kandahar. We live in a global village, right? Unfortunately, it’s easy for us to gasp in horror when we hear about a movie theatre shooting on the other side of our continent, or bombs blowing up hundreds of people in hot countries vaguely located “over there,” and just as easy for us to sigh and forget about what this means for those directly touched by the incident. We ignore and forget too easily. I would wager that the vast majority of Americans have no idea how to find Baghdad on a map, though thousands of Americans were killed and wounded in the Iraq war.
Why have I linked a shooting in Aurora with military actions in foreign countries? Guns. Violence. Our casualness about both. Youngsters are permitted to watch horrifically violent movies, but forbidden from seeing movies with a naked breast or dialogue that includes the “seven forbidden words.” At 18, a young person can go off to war and kill people, but that same person cannot legally drink a beer. Something in this part of our culture just doesn’t compute for me.
Every time an incident like the one that took place in Aurora hits the news, I am confounded and baffled by our capacity to forget and our capacity to avoid real conversation about the subject. When I say “real conversation” I mean people of all points of view setting aside politics and how to leverage “gun control” or NRA support to promote an election campaign in order to talk to each other about the problem. No one in this country wants another Aurora. There, that’s the starting point for reasonable conversation.
My husband and I own a number of guns. I am not opposed to the responsible ownership of guns. I’m not arguing about the intent of the Second Amendment here. I am suggesting that maybe we should examine our custom of permitting access to assault weapons–access that is open to mentally ill people and angry young men as well as the general public.
Back to our collective amnesia about the aftermath of violence: what’s happened to the thousands of Americans wounded and maimed by the wars of the past decade? Where are they? How are they doing? Will the 12 in Aurora and the thousands who died or returned home wounded in war all slip into the dark closet at the back of our brains?
I don’t want to move along with my life without thinking about the 12 young people who died in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado–and I don’t want to forget what killed them. Thanks to the New York Times, here are their pictures…let me say it once again, these young people were killed by a young man, perhaps mentally ill, who LEGALLY acquired assault weapons:
Portraits of the Victims in Colorado
Jonathan T. Blunk, 26
Alexander Boik, 18
Jesse E. Childress, 29
Gordon W. Cowden, 51
Jessica Ghawi, 25
John Larimer, 27
Matthew R. McQuinn, 27
Micayla Medek, 23
Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6
Alex M. Sullivan, 27
Alexander C. Teves, 24