What do we know? A man went to a midnight showing of the “The Dark Knight Rises,” left through the front emergency exit door once in the theater, left the door propped open, armed himself with an assault rifle, shotgun, two handguns, and tear gas, and donned a bullet proof vest, gas mask, and riot helmet.
He re-entered, gassed the room, and he shot 12 people dead and wounded many others. Accounts I see say “59 injured,” but there is no indication yet if some of these are only for gas inhalation or other injuries (like trampling). Many are noted to be in critical condition. He also rigged his apartment with what appear to be explosives.
What we know about the man (who I have chosen not to name) is that he was a Ph.D student who had recently dropped out, apparently as a pre-emptive move from being kicked out of the program. We also know his mother didn’t seem too surprised for some reason. Then there’s the typical, “He was an odd guy,” comments from neighbors.
This isn’t really a good time for me to comment. There’s no way of knowing some things yet, and even as I write this, I am Googling and re-Googling the story looking for updates. I tend to write on matters of politics and religion, and I don’t think this attack had much of anything to do with politics or religion (at least, there’s nothing to indicate that yet). However, there’s still speculation, which I’ll address.
Already you have ABC finding a possible link with the shooter to the Denver Tea Party (but emphasis should be put on the fact that this is not confirmed), which was followed by a highly dubious claim at a conservative blog (which I also won’t name… for similar reasons that I won’t name the shooter) claiming that the shooter was a “registered Democrat.” Never mind that Republicans are always asking their people to register as Democrat to mess with primary races, because there’s already emerging evidence showing the shooter was not registered to vote at all (but again, this could change).
The real issue in these crimes is almost always the same: gun control. But don’t even expect a discussion on gun control, since Americans have been bombarded with decades of misinformation regarding guns. Most Americans can’t even avoid having a knee-jerk emotional response to the words “gun control.”
From how they react, you’d think I was recommending universal castration. “Gun control” is immediately interpreted as “banning all guns,” and I would like nothing more than to stab the next person who makes me sit through some bullshit, unoriginal, uninspired lecture about how the second-amendment protects me from the government… you know, the government which is armed with stealth bombers, pilotless killer drones, and nuclear weapons.
So now, we wait. We wait as we learn more about what happened (though this will largely be to satisfy our sick curiosity than to actually “learn” from it). We also wait as our politicians tip-toe around the real issue here, afraid to upset America’s gun fanatics and powerful firearms lobby during an election year. We wait, and more people die, not only in movie theaters, but also in homes, in streets and alleys, behind store counters… we wait, as over 12,000 people per year are gunned down, many of the victims being gun owners themselves who found out owning a gun doesn’t make you a hero.