This was no random act of violence. Holmes had meticulously planned the awful event.
Just after midnight on Friday, lone gunman James Holmes took the lives of 12 moviegoers and injured a further 58, at a showing of the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. The quiet town of Aurora, Colorado has been left reeling at the news of the deaths and the details surrounding the massacre.
As Holmes entered the movie theatre through an emergency exit, he let off two smoke bombs. Entranced by the movie, the cinemagoers thought it was an elaborate stunt, until he opened fire. Those present say Holmes acted calmly and rather than firing randomly, almost methodically picked those he shot.
This was no random act of violence. Holmes had meticulously planned the awful event. In the two months before the shooting, Holmes had gathered together an arsenal of arms, ammunition and body armour. On the night of the shooting he bought a ticket for the movie, then snuck out via an emergency exit, jamming it open to enable him to return to the theatre once he was fully kitted out.
Upon his arrest Holmes referred to himself as the Joker - a character in the Batman movies - and told police he had booby-trapped his apartment. All this seems to be dramatically at odds with the image he had portrayed prior to Friday of a perfect student and ideal neighbour.
Read more about the tragic shooting in Aurora, Denver at TheAge.com.au
Sadly, on hearing the news that a gunman had opened fire on a cinema full of moviegoers, I automatically assumed it had happened in the US. All too often reports emerge from the States of innocent civilians losing their lives due to the actions of a lone gunman
In 2007 a 23-year-old student killed 32 people at a university campus. In 2009 alone, in three separate incidents, 36 people lost their lives at the hands of lone gunmen. As awful as these mass murders are, have we simply come to expect such news from the US?
It seems to me that we have. Despite the enormity of this atrocity, in which three children aged six, 12 and 14 lost their lives, one of the questions which has been asked after the event is how parents could have taken such young children to a midnight showing of a violent movie? How irrelevant is such a question? Why are not more people asking how this man managed to legally obtain four weapons? Perhaps people just accept that the liberal gun laws in the USA will occasionally enable one unhinged citizen to take the lives of innocent bystanders, just because he can.
Is the right to bear arms such an intrinsic part of US identity that it trumps the right of parents to make the decision on how their children are raised? Of course you can question whether the content of the latest Hollywood adaptation of a comic book character was acceptable viewing for the younger victims. But surely this pales into insignificance when it is so difficult to understand how the atrocity could have been allowed to happen in the first place?
As a parent myself I have on occasion allowed my son to watch a movie which has a classification beyond his years and assumed the only issue would be the questions I would face about things he didn’t understand. I have also allowed him to stay up later than perhaps he should to watch a movie or attend a sporting event and, again, assumed the only issue would be having to deal with one cranky, tired child the next day. Never, when I have made such decisions have I ever had to consider that my lax attitude to parenting could end up with my son being shot and for this I am eternally grateful.
Sadly for those parents who made the decision to allow their children the treat of going to a midnight showing of the latest movie, they will forever regret that they did. Not a day will go by that they don’t wake up and the first words they hear themselves say are ‘if only…’
Do you think we are too accepting of the consequences of the US’s liberal gun laws? If such a tragedy happened in Australia, would you have a different reaction?
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