While the end of July is usually a time to talk about about summer trips and lament the upcoming school year, this year the only topic of conversation seems to be Friday’s shooting at the premier of “The Dark Knight Rises”. It continues to be a source of fear, grief, and puzzlement around the country, and with several copycat shooters thankfully detained before anything else terrible could happen, this story is sure to stay in the news rotation for weeks to come.
With 13 dead and over 60 injured, the event was one of the largest massacres in recent U.S history. But people are stirred up by more than just the death tolls. The incident has sparked controversy on several different fronts, and endless amounts of speculation are being passed on what motive suspect James Holmes could have had for these crimes.
When police arrested Holmes, they found him by his car parked behind the movie theater. They found him dressed in full bullet-proof gear, wearing a gas mask, and carrying several weapons. When they questioned him, he claimed that he was the Joker, the villain from the previous Batman film. At Holmes’s first hearing, it was revealed that he had dyed his hair varying shades of red and orange, which seemed to match the colorful appearance of the Joker.
During the hearing itself, Holmes looked quite strange—sometimes tired, sometimes wide awake, but mostly just distant. He basically looked like he was either on some kind of drug, or just entirely unable to process what was happening to him. The video of his face throughout the short hearing was enough to spark all kinds of speculation on his condition (you can watch the video here).
Some argue that he is likely suffering from mental illness. The former doctorate student is in his early 20’s – a time when specialists say that certain types of psychosis are prime to develop. Others reject the possibility of mental instability and site his potential struggles at school, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, and a recent eviction as motives. At the end of the day, this is all complete speculation, and his motives are still entirely unknown.
The real controversial stuff is the discussion of gun laws that has stemmed from this event. Holmes began acquiring guns from local stores around two months before the shootings. He also ordered many packages online, some up to four months before the event, most of which included ammunition. Those against lax gun control laws see this incident as a clear indication that the law must change. But many like to claim that such discussion is insensitive to the victims of the assault. Mayor Bloomberg, however, is one of many who continues to press on the topic, expressing his views that tighter control will prevent more incidents like this from occurring. On the contrary, many in Colorado are now taking advantage of our second amendment to purchase guns of their own. There was a massive increase in Colorado gun sales on the Monday following the shooting, as people feel that buying guns will help them protect themselves.
Romney and Obama have steered clear of this highly touchy issue, and have instead focused on giving their support to the victims and their families. It’s clear, however, that whoever is ultimately elected will have to address the underlying issues of public safety and gun control during their first term.
Another controversial topic that is beginning to be discussed is the issue of death penalty. Colorado is a death penalty state, and while Holmes’s trial will likely not occur for another year, people are already discussing their views on whether or not they think Holmes should receive the death penalty, and whether or not people feel the death penalty should be legal at all.
One thing is for certain: this incident has had, and will continue to have, a large impact on this country. Whether people are moved by the grief families are experiencing, angered by the deeds of Holmes, or passionately discussing the second amendment and its role in this shooting, this shocking and terrible event will not soon be forgotten.