In my seven years in this country there have been a good number of events such as those in Aurora, CO last night. All have touched me, because I am of mankind. I hurt when people hurt and I cry when confronted by their grief.
Usually the tragedies happen at a distance. Last night they happened on the doorstep.
All the photographs in this Diary are mine. I took them this afternoon and they will be made available to all in the Kos Image Gallery.
The shooting of a Congresswoman, or other senseless killings usually happen at a distance. They affect other people more than they do me if only because of geography. I, and most of us, hear of these things on the News. We are aghast, we sympathize, we discuss and debate endlessly the rights and wrongs of each situation. Then we put it to one side, until the next time. There is always a next time.
Unlike all those other times, this one is, for me, qualitatively different.
Different not because the horror is the lesser, nor is it any less profound an event for those directly involved. It is different simply because I was within one block of the events as they unfolded.
Jodie and I had just arrived in Aurora on a short vacation. We are here with Jodie's Mom who wanted to visit relatives who live locally. The holiday spirit was high, and even the kids had behaved during the two days in the car. We were looking forward to a few days of good company, decent food, and mountains ... lots of mountains.
At around 12.30 am this morning, while we slept off the journey, what greeted us was death .... yet again. Those who were still awake in our hotel heard the gunshots. Soon thereafter they heard the plaintive wail as first responders do what they do ... respond, from all over this city they came to tend to the wounded, sympathise with the dead, and arrest the killer.
The killer who, in the last two months bought six thousand rounds for the Smith and Wesson Assault Rifle that was his weapon of choice, all perfectly legally. SIX THOUSAND FUCKING ROUNDS. I can't even buy three packs of Sudafed without the government wanting every detail down to my inside leg measurement. Yet this killer could buy six thousand rounds of ammunition, and innumerable magazines and clips, apparently with no questions asked.
Does no one else think that there is something not quite right about that?
Last time it was Gabby Giffords and other innocent bystanders. This time it was equally innocent theatergoers. Who will be next?
Last time we had Daily Kos readers and commenters who argued the futility of banning extended clips (I don't actually care if the terms are incorrect, get over it). They argued that the person kills, not the gun. Yeah right .... You keep on believing that but right now I am watching a news conference where the Police Officer answering the questions is crying. Imagine, if you will, the tears of those Moms and Dads, sisters, brother and children of the deceased and critically injured.
Doubtless over the next few days and weeks the details will emerge. They will represent the sadness of a life wasted by a guy who, whatever his motivation, decided to waste another dozen lives in a gruesome and macabre manner. The gun lobby will sigh loudly, sit on their Constitutional Rights and refuse to accept that guns are a problem in society. Yes, they are. They are a problem because sick people can easily get them, and then buy six thousand rounds of ammunition, and 100 round drum magazines, then walk into a school, movie theater, college, public meeting .... and blow people away.
Hands will wring, tears, real and crocodile will be shed then important people will do NOTHING, thus consigning who knows how many American families to similar in the future.
Tonight I sit in my hotel room and I give thanks that last night I was too tired to take my children to the movies ..... for popcorn.