Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Dark Night in Aurora

As many of you know, last week, during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, a man named James Holmes walked into a theater in Aurora, Colorado and began shooting people in the audience. He killed 12, and wounded 58 others in this barbaric act.

I think what Holmes did was unbelievably evil, and my thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by his actions. I can’t imagine what sort of thoughts were going through Holmes’ mind that would allow him to do such a thing. And I can’t imagine the level of horror those in that theater must have felt, nor the sadness and anger that the families of those who were wounded or died now feel. My heart aches for all involved.

It saddens me too, though, that so many have already brought politics into focus so soon after the shooting. I personally think it is shameful that the liberals and those in favor of more gun control laws would so quickly use this incident as ammunition for their cause. Since they have, I suppose there is little anyone can do in their opposition but to go ahead and get into such a debate in order to hopefully spread some sense of calm and reason before rights and freedoms start getting stripped away arbitrarily.

I’ve never been a very big fan of guns. I had a bb gun as a kid, and I did play with it out in the yard for maybe a couple of years. I still have it. And I do own a shot gun that my grandpa gave me a few years ago, which I’ve only fired once just after I got it. So, I am a gun owner. But I’ve never much cared for guns just in general. I do, however, care very much about my right to own and use guns. It is a right given by our constitution, which I will always choose to defend.

Using what happened in Aurora to justify abolishing this right, in my view, is not only uncalled for, but inexcusable as well. Guns are not responsible for what happened in Aurora. Nor were they to blame for what happened to Gabrielle Giffords, or at Virginia Tech, or at Columbine, or even in Norway. They are objects, no more dangerous than chainsaws, power drills, pick axes, crow bars, sticks of dynamite, knives, blow torches, gun powder, or even baseball bats, all of which can be used as weapons when put in the wrong hands. Even hands can do a lot of damage when their owner wants them to.

What happened in Aurora was not the fault of any particular weapon, useless on its own. Rather, James Holmes, a very sick and immoral person, should be held solely responsible. What happened is on his shoulders alone. I say this, because he obviously had intent to cause harm to others. Having that intent, it wouldn’t have mattered if guns were banned or not. He would have still attacked others, one way or another, gun or no gun.

People seem to forget that explosives and tear gas were also used to terrorize in this situation. Why do the ones who dislike guns not also care about getting rid of these other things? It seems a bit curious to me, but that aside, I say that we have to look at Holmes’s intent. He planned murder, pure and simple. He planned on shooting people, as well as blowing people up. It was his intent to cause harm to others. And the question we should ask, before banning guns and overreacting, is that if guns had been banned, would he still have ended up doing something to hurt others? Instead of shooting people, would he have planted explosives in the theater? Would he have went in there and just began stabbing people? Would he have run in there all Texas Chainsaw Massacre like on everyone? Seeing the harm he caused and the total lack of respect he had for human life, I’d say yes. But that doesn’t seem to matter to some. Their response is just to put a band aid over the problem, throw blame in the wrong direction, and lock the restroom doors.

Let me explain that last part.

When I first started high school, students were allowed to go outside to a designated area out back of the school to smoke. Laws later changed which prohibited all smoking on school grounds. When that happened, the designated outside smoking area was no more. But, people still wanted to smoke, so they took up smoking in the restrooms. To put a stop to that, school officials began locking the restroom doors and put up cameras outside. You couldn’t get into the restrooms without first going to the office, getting a key, and being timed. But, people still wanted to smoke, so they took up smoking in the hallways instead, using groups of friends to hide them from view of the teachers, which led to the hallways being constantly full of smoke. What I learned from this was that no amount of prohibition worked. Those who were intent on smoking always found a way to do so. But, instead of them smoking in public, in a safe, teacher monitored, outside smoking area, they were smoking in hiding, out of view of teachers, right in the middle of the school. Getting rid of smoking areas did absolutely nothing to stop students from smoking. In fact, all that I saw it accomplish was to anger those who smoked and to threaten the health and safety of all those who didn’t smoke. It just didn’t work.

If you want to prevent people from smoking, you have to do more than just lock the restroom doors. You have to teach and convince them that smoking is wrong. It is the same for evil acts like the shooting that happened in Aurora. Taking away guns will not prevent gun related crimes, and most statistics prove this. Doing that is only a band aid to the problem. Teaching and convincing people that shooting and killing others is wrong might actually make a difference though.

Instead of talking about banning weapons, we should be talking about teaching morals. We put violence in everything these days, from movies to video games, even in songs, and yet so many of the youth in this country never hear that it is wrong to actually commit such evil acts, and, even if they do, they know there is usually little or no real accountability for what they do. In fact, we almost glorify evil by the way we excuse it. But when do we ever teach that these things are wrong? Teachers are told not to teach morality, a lot of parents are too wrapped up in themselves to ever teach their kids anything valuable, politicians can’t tell the truth without being accused of being politically incorrect, and so called role models tend to be far less than ideal for kids to look up to. We do not do a very good job of teaching people the difference between right and wrong these days, nor do we adequately teach the consequences of such actions.

Find a liberal willing to admit any of this.

The problem is not that we have weapons. Weapons will always be around, in one form or another. The problem is that we do not teach proper values and morals anymore. We’ve pushed both of those things to the side in our society, glorifying so much that is wrong, and putting band aids on all of our problems hoping that they’ll cover the sores underneath.

And then I don’t believe we do nearly enough to help those who are disturbed or troubled. For some problems a person can face, there really is very little, if any, help that is ever offered for them. And if help is offered, they don’t know where to get it.

I can use myself as an example here. I went for years too scared to ever admit to anyone that I was gay, and yet being gay was eating away at me. I didn’t know how to process and manage all of the feelings I was having, and yet I didn’t know who to trust, who I could talk to, or what I should do in order to get help. I honestly just thought there was no help and I was all alone. Thankfully, after some time, I did manage to find help. I found Exodus International and a counselor through them who helped me more than I could ever have imagined. Looking back though, I wonder why I couldn’t have found help in any of the local churches, from a good school counselor, or even from family. I think, to a great extent, it is because too many people—Christians included—would rather bury their heads in the sand and pretend that there aren’t any real problems in the world (out of sight, out of mind). And when people do this, those who need help don’t get it. I needed help so badly that I nearly killed myself. I was suicidal for about a year, contemplating ending my life to the point I was literally making myself sick. That was how I handled my problem at the time. I knew things were bad, I couldn’t figure them out on my own, I couldn’t find help, I felt all alone, and so death seemed like the best way out of it all. I just thank God for grabbing hold of my steering wheel and guiding me back to a better place in life.

But you know, not everyone deals with their problems the same way. I didn’t blame others for my problems when I was considering suicide. The weight fell solely on me. I wanted to take out my anger, frustrations, loneliness, stress, and misery on myself. Others may want to take theirs out on others.

I’m reminded of the students at Columbine. Both were described as loners and outcasts. I think it is obvious that they were troubled. And, I wonder, did either of them ever try to get help? If they did, were they unsuccessful? Did they get help and it not matter? Did they just finally decide that they’d had enough and couldn’t take their problems anymore? Was that why they decided to murder their classmates?

You see, we never talk about these things. Because if we do, then we have to admit that we have some very real, deep seeded problems, and that we might actually have to do some work as a society to improve things.

There again, as long as people continue to exist, evil will always exist. It is in us to commit evil acts. There will always be some mad man out to destroy the world (or watch it burn). Some people just get off on such things. And that being the case, no degree of weapons bans will ever prevent them from bringing about some form of harm to others.

Now, let me make something clear. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be waiting periods and background checks and other regulations regarding the purchase and usage of guns. I’m also not saying that we shouldn’t probably ban or limit the usage of certain very dangerous weapons, such as AK47’s and the like, which are really designed for nothing more than combat use. But I will never be in favor of doing away with a person’s right to own and use guns, be that for self defense, hunting, or for just outright enjoyment. Here is where I draw the line.

Again, I think what happened in Aurora was a really terrible thing. It shouldn’t have happened. I just wish that people would actually worry more about the people than playing politics. I wish they’d learn from this experience that, yet again, all of their previous band aids have failed to actually take care of a problem. And that this problem will continue to happen so long as people would rather turn a blind eye instead of doing something right that might honestly create a more solid prevention—guns or no guns.

I feel saddened by the whole thing.

1 comment:

daemon said...

Solid thoughts and words here. Thank you for sharing with us. I appreciate the honesty and transparency, not only about yourself, but also your view of life and morality. Looking deeper into the actual roots and foundations of problems is never easy. I wish that more people would do so personally and as a society.