Here we go again: another shocking massacre out of the blue, this time the murder of 12 people and the wounding of nearly 60 in an Aurora, Colo., theater by a demented gunman named James Holmes. As usual, we start wondering if this could have been stopped “if only we’d paid attention to the signals.” But friends and acquaintances of Holmes say there were no signals. Yes, he was quiet and self-contained – aren’t they all? – but he was friendly and quite bright.
But it turns out he at least sent a missive – was it a manifesto or an apology? He is said to have mailed a notebook to the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus on Monday – the day of his first court appearance – detailing his plans to kill people.
As usual when we try to make sense of the inexplicable, we tend to fall back on our pet causes. We should get serious about stricter gun control! We should do a better job of identifying and stopping people with dangerous mental illnesses! We must rein in the ever-more intense violence in our popular culture!
In the end, we really don’t know what to do except to hope the criminal justice system at least does its job and makes sure those who commit such heinous acts are held accountable.
And we worry that we might encounter the same random violence somewhere in our own lives. Gun sales in this country soared in the days immediately after the massacre.