At first blush, Friday afternoon was supposed to be a chance to follow up on eager anticipation by stepping into a darkened movie theater and see the year’s most anticipated film.
Then we woke up Friday morning to the news that, in the Denver suburb of Aurora, at one of those sold-out midnight showings of The Dark Knight Rises, a young man named James Holmes walked into one of those darkened theaters, unleashed a gas canister and then opened fire with multiple guns, killing 12 and wounding nearly 60.
It was impossible not to flash back to those other mass shootings that have scarred America’s psyche, especially the one that took place 13 years ago not far from Aurora, at a school called Columbine.
Have we learned absolutely nothing from Columbine or other mass shootings? Attempts to meaningfully address gun violence in this country have been literally shot down, either because opponents want to regulate too much or because proponents, especially the NRA, believe any attempt at regulation subverts their sacred Second Amendment rights.
Isn’t it enough to say that this sort of violence is unacceptable, period? To be sure, you can’t stereotype all gun owners through the awful acts of one person, but at the same time those that don’t have guns have the right to feel safe, too.
Some have already looked to the Batman films as a scapegoat. Director Christopher Nolan tackled a lot of themes in his Batman trilogy, one of them the way a society reacts to mindless, overwhelming violence.
So it’s natural that some will consider this dark act an imitation of the art on the screen. Many witnesses and survivors said that they initially thought the gas canister was part of the program until, a split-second later, they realized the awful truth. Holmes told police he was the Joker, and little else.