The death toll appears to be 12 now, down from 14 in the reports I heard earlier, but several of the 50 or so that were wounded appear to have critical wounds; the death toll may yet rise.
Youngest Son was at a midnight showing of the The Dark Knight in suburban Chicago. Maybe that's what makes me so cranky.
But I took a look at the President's press release about the event this morning:
Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my Administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded. As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come.And then I took a look at Governor Romney's press release:
“Ann and I are deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence that took the lives of 15 people in Colorado and injured dozens more. We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief. We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice.”"Shocked and saddened." "Deeply saddened." "Thoughts and prayers." "We are praying for the families."
These are certainly appropriate sentiments.
But they are not enough.
Good God, what kind of a country do we live in where kids can't go out to a stupid comic book movie without running the risk of getting shot up?
I'm not talking about the sick, twisted bastard that brought an AK-47, a shotgun, a pistol and some sort of gas dispersal device into a movie theater. They caught that mope (he apparently left his apartment booby-trapped, too).
I'm talking about the rest of us. Doesn't anyone pay attention to anything?
Hello? Didn't anybody think twice when someone walks into a public place with all that firepower? (I'm guessing it was concealed, somehow. So he's walking in with a steamer trunk or a giant duffle. I can't bring a can of pop from my house into the theater -- it'll be confiscated immediately, because they want me to spend money on concessions -- you mean no one questioned whatever this guy brought into the building?)
For that matter, how does someone sink so low that they'll try and reinvent themselves as a Batman super-villain by shooting up a movie show without someone around him noticing? The President wants to 'ensure the safety of our people.' Hey, I know! Let's pass a law against shooting people in theaters! I know all the usual suspects will be on the evening news tonight braying about how this terrible event shows the need for stricter gun controls. But gun control is a joke -- a dangerous, potentially lethal joke. Chicago has had a virtual ban on guns for decades -- and we have a body count every weekend that routinely beats anything in Kabul or Baghdad, where babies have pistols in their bassinets.
Every time some lunatic shoots up a public place, the neighbors are interviewed and they all say the same things: "He was a quiet young man." "Kept to himself." "We had no idea." What they're really saying is that they never looked at the dope, much less looked out for him.
The first and best protector of your safety is you. I'm not talking about the idiots who complain to airline flight crews that a couple of fellow passengers have swarthy complexions and are speaking a funny language. But when someone is genuinely acting odd, what's the harm in going to the manager or the policeman on the corner and asking if he or she notices anything strange? If I were writing the candidates' press releases, I mention that. I'd also point out that -- while we don't know yet about the shooter's mental state and we can't prejudge the facts -- horrific events like this remind us of the critical failures of our mental health system and the need to get people help before we get people hurt.