Waking up to another shooting in the U.S. is not how any of us want to start our day, as “Aurora” joins “Columbine” as the second massacre in a Denver suburb and also joins “Gabby Giffords,” “Fort Hood” and “Virginia Tech” as shorthand for horrific shootings by unstable men.
Each shooting had a different venue, but all were places where potentially anyone could have been a victim.
I can’t be the only one who quietly thanked God the massacre wasn’t in Las Vegas, concerned that inevitably one will be.
University of Colorado grad student James Holmes, 24, is alleged to be the gunman who killed at least 12 people and injured nearly 60 , in a movie theater, a setting strikingly close to those of us who attend movies regularly. That the movie was the latest Batman, and the shooting was at the start of the midnight show, meant the audience was likely younger.
Just a guess, but people will come forward saying “He was a quiet man, a loner” and then others will say there were signs he was disturbed. That seems to be a recurring pattern in shootings. Of course they are mentally ill. Otherwise how could these shooters do what they do?
Coincidentally, the day before Friday’s shooting, The Associated Press reported an FBI review of Army Maj. Nidal Hasan’s shootings of 13 soldiers and civilians in 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas, showed that the FBI was too “politically correct” when dealing with warnings about the Islamic extremist.
Let’s remember a few other deadly shootings in the U.S.:
■ Two students at Columbine High School killed 13, wounded about two dozen others, then killed themselves in 1999.
■ Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 13 others were wounded and six more were killed outside a Tucson., Ariz., supermarket in 2011. Jared Lee Loughner, who was found mentally unfit for trial, still could face charges in the melee.
■ On the Virginia Tech campus, mentally ill Seung-Hui Cho, shot and killed 32, wounding 17 others, in 2007.
Schools, supermarkets, now movie theaters. Is no place safe?
The first mass shooting I remember was in 1966 when Charles Whitman stabbed and killed his wife and mother, then climbed the University of Texas clock tower and shot and killed 14 people and wounded 31 others before police killed him.
The shootings in Aurora inspired a political response, and President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney said what every thinking person considers at times like this.
Obama said, “If there’s anything to take away from this tragedy it’s the reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited, and it is precious. And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it’s not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives. Ultimately, it’s how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another. It’s what we do on a daily basis to give our lives meaning and to give our lives purpose. That’s what matters.”
Romney was equally eloquent. “Today is a moment to grieve and to remember, to reach out and to help, to appreciate our blessings in life,” he said. “Each one of us will hold our kids a little closer, linger a bit longer with a colleague or a neighbor, reach out to a family member or friend. We’ll all spend a little less time thinking about the worries of our day and more time wondering about how to help those who are in need of compassion most.”
Likely neither man wrote these comments, but both delivered them well to a nation once again shaken by senselessness.
It’s inevitable arguments will re-emerge about the ease of obtaining weapons, cuts in mental health services and what responsibilities rest with those who ignored signs of instability.
But for today, let’s listen to the words of Obama and Romney and treasure life.