Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Word of the Day: MASSACRE [Part 2 of 3]

If you have been following the story of the massacre at a Colorado movie theater last week fairly closely, then much of what I will cover here will be repetitious.  In addition, much of what is known now will be added to exponentially between now and the time of trial, not to mention the trial itself.

It now appears that the alleged perpetrator, James Eagan Holmes, had been building his stockpile of weapons and bomb-making materials for approximately two months.  During that time, no doubt as he added to his collection of incendiary materials, he rigged his apartment with booby traps.  The intended purpose of the booby traps did not come to fruition, although they almost did.  Holmes' neighbor directly below him, Kaitlyn Fonzi, went upstairs when a timer in Holmes' apartment switched on very loud techno music exactly at midnight.  Even though her boyfriend had recommended that she let the police handle it, she went upstairs to Holmes' apartment.  Ms. Fonzi went so far as to try the door handle, which she said was unlocked.   In what can be called luck, fate, or divine intervention, something told her to not open the door, so she didn't.  (I don't think I'd be able to sleep well for a long time knowing that.)  His intended goal at his apartment building, based on initial reports of the materials found in there, was to not only kill whoever opened his apartment door, but to take out most, if not all, of the building.

Around the time he began to build his arsenal in May, Holmes' grades dropped to the point where the University of Colorado's Medical School was seriously considering placing him on academic probation.  Whatever was going to slip inside him had already begun.  In June, he had dropped out of college.  (Some reports say that he was in the process of dropping out.)  On July 20, the massacre took place.

Holmes had parked his car behind the theater, walked around to the front, bought a ticket to the 12:05 a.m. showing of The Dark Knight Rises, exited theater 9 through the exit by the movie screen after the movie began, propped opened the door, suited up, and reentered the theater.  He threw two canisters of what appears to be some sort of gas or pepper spray, which went off with an explosion and filled the theater with smoke, into the audience.  He first fires two or three rounds up into the ceiling.  Then...he begins to fire at audience members.  A number of surviving witnesses say that one of the things they noticed was how calm he was as he was shooting people randomly.  It appeared his goal was carnage.  The result, which may have been even worse if his first weapon hadn't jammed as it did, was fifty-eight persons injured and twelve persons killed.

However, I believe his goal may have been beyond carnage.  Here is what Holmes purchased in the months leading up to this tragedy...
The gear:
Ballistic (bulletproof) helmet
Gas mask
Throat protector
Ballistic vest
Ballistic leggings
Groin protector
Ballistic gloves
The weapons:
Two .40-caliber handguns (at least one or both, depending on the report, was a Glock)
One Remington model 870 shotgun
One Smith & Wesson model AR-15 .223-caliber rifle (some call this an assault rifle)
The ammunition:
3,000 rounds of .40-caliber ammunition [handguns]
300 rounds of 12-gauge ammunition [shotgun]
3,000 rounds of .223-caliber ammunition [rifle]

To this blogger, Holmes' goal was to kill every single person in that theater with no survivors. 

All of his arsenal were purchased legally.  That's right...he broke no laws in the purchasing of any and all of his one-man army stockpile, including all four weapons.  My question is How?  On one level, that can be answered with In stores and Online.  Fair enough, but my question is on a deeper level.  How was he allowed to amass all that he did with not a red flag, not a single warning sign going off to anyone, anywhere, in any way?  Not only is it appropriate to ask what in the world does anyone who is not serving in the armed forces (and while on duty) need with all of that, but to also ask how he was allowed to do it. 

Gun laws in the state of Colorado are very relaxed.  That is reason number one why Holmes was able to do what he did.  Another reason why he did it, more specific to why he did it in Colorado, is that the gun laws in California, where he was born and attended the University of California, Riverside, are far stricter than in Colorado.  They are considered some of the strictest gun laws in the country.  Harder to accomplish this in California?  Try a state where the gun laws are much more relaxed.

I, personally, am opposed to guns.  I have held them, but have never fired them.  I am no "anti-gun liberal".  Anyone who wants to hunt, there are weapons -- none of Holmes' stockpile are included -- that you can use.  If you want to defend yourself, there are weapons for that, too.  It appears that Holmes had no intentions of hunting (at least not wild animals) or of protecting himself.  I can find absolutely, positively, unequivocally no reason for him to have all that...and I can find absolutely, positively, unequivocally every reason to have methods, policies, procedures, etc., in place to take steps to try and prevent this from happening again. 

To the general gun-owning population and to any NRA members who are on the fanatical end of its spectrum -- those who'd wave the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in my face at the drop of a hat even if I said something like no one could own bullets unless they were colored pink -- I have this to say: If you think my last statement in the previous paragraph means that I am, in reality, an "anti-gun liberal", think again.  No one having any weapons, aside from those who use them for their work, would be ideal, sure.  (Not so surprising, huh?)  That, however, is unrealistic and, quite frankly, unconstitutional.  Yes, I get that. 

What you may find surprising is that I believe that you have the right to have the right weapons for the right reasons, absolutely!  The right weapons for the wrong reasons, however, is not, in my view, granted and protected by the Second Amendment.  Not having safeguards in place is a form of idolizing "freedom".  Not valuing it, but idolizing it.  Gun laws in Colorado, and in the United States, need to change.  They need to change not for the purpose of devaluing constitutional freedoms, but rather to value human life.  That can and must be done without even thinking about taking away people's guns.


P.S. -- Tomorrow, in part three, I will focus more on the human element and impact of this tragic event.

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