Colorado shooting reignites America’s ‘gun culture’ debate
A tragic shooting, which took place at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, left 12 people dead and injured at least 71 others, during a screening of the new Batman movie.
According to local authorities, suspect 24-year old James Holmes, was apprehended in the parking lot behind the theatre. He has no criminal history with the police department outside of one traffic violation.
The bright red-headed suspect calmly entered from the side entrance of the theatre and announced that he was “The Joker” – the character from the Batman movie. Dressed in all-black ballistic gear including a ballistic helmet, vest, shin guards, groin and throat protector, and a gas mask, he dropped to canisters that released smoke, and then began to randomly shoot at audience members who had just seated themselves to watch “The Dark Knight Rises” which opened at 3,700 theaters across the United States.
Some movie-goers assumed the assailant was part of the special gimmick or prank of the midnight movie premier until shots rang out and a regular movie night turned into a living nightmare.
Holmes was arrested without incident and four weapons were recovered in his possession, one of which was in the theatre. The guns included AR-15 rifle, a 870 12-gauge Remington shotgun, and two 40-caliber Glock handguns. The assailant bought the weapons and almost 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the last two months. Local police officials are confident that Holmes acted alone and is not part of a terrorist group until a further investigation results in new evidence.
Many of the victims were seriously injured and officials are waiting for a full report from local medical officials.
The suspect was in accordance with state gun laws where gun permit holders are allowed to carry concealed handguns. Although rifle and assault weapons are prohibited – Holmes did buy his the guns with a permit.
Colorado police officials are having difficulty entering the shooter’s apartment which is rigged with explosives.
“His apartment is booby-trapped,” Aurora police chief Dan Oates told reporters. “We are trying to determine how to disarm the flammable or explosive material. We could be here for hours or days. The pictures are fairly disturbing. It looks very sophisticated, how it’s booby-trapped. It could be a very long wait.”
An eyewitness caught the chaos on a cell phone camera and posted the video on Youtube which already has over a million views.
The media attention surrounding the shooting has roused the gun debate once again among political pundits especially New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who has been vocal about his anti-gun stance.
“Soothing words are nice,” Bloomberg said during radio show in New York. “But maybe it’s time the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country. And everybody always says, ‘Isn’t it tragic?’”
Bloomberg continued. “And this is a problem. No matter where you stand on the Second Amendment, no matter where you stand on guns, we have a right to hear from both of them, concretely, not just in generalities, specifically, what are they going to do about guns?”
The second amendment of the United States Constitution’s part of the Bill of Rights states; “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Since the last two presidential campaigns public opinion has changed on different social issues like gun control – according to the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. – Americans have become more conservative on the right to bear arms. On gun control, 49 per cent of Americans say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns, while 45 per cent say it is more important to control gun ownership.
From 1993 through 2008, majorities had said it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights, but opinion became more divided since the election of US President Barack Obama.
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention & Control, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009, guns took the lives an estimated 31,000 Americans in homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings. This is the equivalent of more than 85 deaths each day and more than three deaths each hour.
Americans own an estimated 270 million firearms – approximately 90 guns for every 100 people.
In recent Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics, in 2010, there were an estimated 12,000 murders in the US of those, 8,775 were caused by a firearms.
In reaction to the shooting security measures are being taken at movie theaters across the country.
In New York, New York Police Department took security measures at many theater locations to ward off any copy-cat assailants. Movie-goers who attend the theater in costume will be denied access into the theatre.
Warner Brothers released a statement sending their condolences to the victims and their families and a special red-carpet screening in Paris with the stars of the “The Dark Knight Rises” was cancelled.
Originally from California, James Egan Holmes was a student the University of Colorado Denver’s graduate program in neurosciences.
Aurora is small city in Colorado with an estimated 325,000 population located outside of Denver, a major city, in Colorado. Colorado is known for its famous mountain range known as the Rocky Mountains. The city of Aurora was also the former home to Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit and her husband Dr Shriram Nene.
The author is former Dawn.com staff member based in New York.