We Dishonor the Aurora Victims By Turning Away From Politics
By now, most people have heard about the tragedy that occurred last night in Aurora, Colorado. If you haven’t, here is the Reuters write-up. All of our hearts go out to the victims and families of the victims in this shooting. The thoughts and prayers of the world are with them.
Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have canceled campaign events, pulled ads from Colorado air, and released statements calling for unity and healing. At what was intended to be a rally in Florida, President Obama said:
But there are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.
Speaking from Bow, New Hampshire, Mitt Romney also gave a statement, saying:
This is a time for each of us to look into our hearts and remember how much we love one another, and how much we love, and how much we care for, our great country.
There is something to be said for the impulse to put aside politics in times like these. This is an unimaginable tragedy. So far, authorities in Colorado have not released any information about the motives of 24-year-old James Holmes, a neuroscience graduate student. There is no knowledge as to why he rigged his apartment with explosives, leading to an evacuation of the surrounding area. It is an attack that seems calculated to play on some of our biggest fears. As President Obama said in Florida, we all go to the movies, we all have parents and children and friends who go to the movies. We often go to be scared in an environment that we know is not real. We can go, sit in the dark, and be terrified of the monsters and gun-chases unfolding in stunning visuals in front of us safe in the knowledge that soon the lights will come up.
For 12 people in Colorado, the lights will never come up, and that has terrified us. It chills us all that the gunman opened up fire during a scene that featured gunshots, leading many who were in the theater to say that they were delayed in responding because they thought it was part of the movie. The premiere of Dark Knight Rises has been cancelled in Paris; theaters in New York City and Washington D.C. have increased security, partly to prevent copycats, but also to ease the fears of moviegoers.
I am not going to disagree that this is a time for unity, for all of us to come together and remember that sometimes these big events are not just a matter of debates online and by talking heads on television, but of real people who have had their lives shattered by a senseless act of violence. Pulling campaign ads is a gesture of respect.
But I will not say that this is not a time for politics. We’ve come to a place in the United States where politics is synonymous with bitter divisiveness, but it doesn’t need to be that way. We can rise above without ignoring the fact that this shooting is going to dramatically change the upcoming election. Guns will be an issue now, and that’s good. They should be. This morning on WOR Radio in NYC, Mayor Michael Bloomberg–a longtime advocate for gun control law, strongly called on both President Obama and Mitt Romney to address the problem of gun violence.
You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country. And everybody always says, ‘Isn’t it tragic,’ and you know, we look for was the guy, as you said, maybe trying to recreate Batman. I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day, it’s just got to stop. And instead of the two people – President Obama and Governor Romney – talking in broad things about they want to make the world a better place, okay, tell us how. And this is a real 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?
Gun violence is something that happens across the country every day, in urban areas and in rural areas. It should not take a tragedy like this to make gun control laws a political issue. This should be a unifying political issue, not a divisive one: you can support the right to bear arms but still agree that murdering people with them is not okay. We have the same goals, here, we just might disagree on the methods we take to get there.
I am an unabashed President Obama supporter, but I think he has been conspicuously silent on the issue of gun control since he took office. I understand why–it’s a political killer for him. Who can forget “Bittergate” in the 2008 election, where he claimed that people were clinging to their guns out of bitterness at the changing world?
The tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, shocked the country. We had some discourse on gun control then, but not much, and it quickly faded away.
Here’s the real tragedy of these big, high-profile gun crimes: we let the gun discussion die until something else horrible happens. When we do this, we dishonor the victims. We can talk about violence in movies. We can talk about violence in video games. But the truth is, nobody can commit these crimes without access to guns, and gun control has to be part of the debate, or it will happen again. This tragedy occurred 13 miles from Columbine.
We cannot forget that gun violence is not a sporadic problem. We treat Tucson, Virginia Tech, Columbine and now Aurora as the work of “crazies.” But there are gunshots ringing out across the United States every day. Young men, especially young African-American men, are dying in unacceptable numbers by guns. Why do they not deserve attention?
So yes, let’s come together as a nation to mourn. Let’s hug our loved ones and realize that life is a fragile thing. But let’s not forget that there are other guns being fired today. We do not disrespect the victims by turning to politics if we remember that politics are not meant to be divisive, but to uplift our society, to make things better.
What is your opinion on gun control? Do you support the second amendment? Join the discussion in the comments!
Opinions stated in our editorials do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Feminspire and its staff as a whole, but instead reflect the opinions of the writer.