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Posted Jul 20, 2012, 10:03 am
A year and a half ago, the nation held Tucson to its heart.
Today, let us offer our prayers to the people of Aurora, Colo.—to the victims of Thursday night's horrific shooting, to their families, friends, and the people of that city. Let us send them our love, our thoughts of healing, our helping hands if needed.
But tomorrow, let us move beyond the platitudes from afar. They indeed may bring comfort to Aurora as they make us feel good and moral, but prayers over what has been done change the future no more than they change the past.
South of the border on Thursday evening at least several people were killed, including a police officer, in a gun battle involving drug cartel members. As terrible as that is, there's a logic behind the fighting as cartels battle for the enormous profits to be had from smuggling drugs.
But the Aurora shooting? Binghamton? Westroads Mall in Omaha? Ft. Hood? Columbine? Not to mention two mass shooting incidents in just over a decade in our Old Pueblo. Mass shootings happen with distressing regularity. Just in the time since the Jan. 8 shooting, at least 143 people have been murdered and 300 wounded in mass shootings in the United States.
How many shootings must occur? How many perfectly innocent victims must be murdered before we take up the task of having a serious conversation?
Such crimes are beyond reason, but it does not follow that our response should be beyond reasoning. We cannot accept mass murders as inevitable.
Our mental health system is fundamentally broken. Our day-to-day interactions are characterized by insularity at best, if not disdain and vitriol for others. Our society values confrontation over cooperation. We value our neighbors little, and strangers nearly not at all. And deadly weapons are simple to obtain for the tragically troubled.
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You may accept the bumper-sticker slogan that "guns don't kill people, people do," but that trite phrase does nothing to prevent disturbed individuals from leveling a gun and pulling a trigger. Certainly we are not individually responsible for such evil acts by others, but are we not collectively responsible for creating a more healthy community?
A dozen people in Aurora should be more than just a number. Six in Tucson should have been more than just a number. They should do more than just give us pause for a moment of silence.
Silence is no longer enough. We must do something. I only wish I knew what.