Conflict & Tragedy
Over the edge of insanity and into the abyss
James Holmes: A man who has secured his place in history in the worst way. A man whose face and alleged deeds will forever be etched into our collective memories.
Holmes is accused of walking into a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and opening fire on dozens of moviegoers as they watched the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises". In a calculated and apparently well thought out action, Holmes allegedly fired on the crowd using several weapons. In the aftermath of the bloody rampage, 12 people lay dead or dying and 59 others were wounded.
Surprisingly, Holmes made no attempt to flee the scene. He was taken into custody just outside the theater without incident. A man who witnesses and police described as armed to the teeth, complete with body armor and seemingly prepared to die; quietly surrenders to police without even firing another shot. His motive is currently unknown.
As the nation reels from the Holmes attack, another gunman targets worshipers at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. The alleged shooter is an Army veteran with reported ties to White Supremacists. His attack kills six people and wounds four others. The attack is labelled a hate crime.
Another man goes berserk in Texas and kills a constable and a bystander before police shoot and kill the gunman. Another police officer and bystander are also wounded. The reported motive for the shooting? An eviction notice.
The most recent incident at the time of this writing has been yet another shooting. This one involving four Louisiana police officers. Two officers were killed and two others injured in what has been described as an ambush. The gunman allegedly used an assault weapon to shoot the officers. The reason for the shooting is currently under investigation.
Four incidents. Three police officers killed, four injured. Nineteen civilians killed, 64 injured for a total of 90 people killed or injured in the span of mere weeks. All allegedly done by four gunmen.
Meanwhile, reports of standoffs and bomb threats from all over the country continue to come in. In addition to this, there have been several wildfires springing up in many areas of the nation. Some of which have been confirmed as arson while others are suspected cases. Although these acts, with some possible exceptions, appear to be random with no connections, they still bring up some important and intriguing questions: What prompted these people to act in the ways they did? Why did they randomly target people? Why have all of these incidents taken place within such a short time span? Are these just coincidences or could this be something more sinister? Something more insidious?
Before we go any further, this is not an attempt to advocate some shadowy conspiracy theory. However, this is equally not an attempt to discredit anyone's interpretation of these events either. This is merely an examination of these incidents and the possible ramifications that may be involved.
Since the James Holmes incident there have been several similar incidents in relatively rapid succession. These events have already spurred renewed debates on gun-control laws in the U.S. While advocates of tighter gun legislation argue that these incidents can be prevented by stricter laws, opponents of tougher laws counter with the argument that stronger laws only serve to make law-abiding citizens sitting ducks for criminals.
Although both sides have valid arguments and concerns, they both fail to address one important question? What good are these restrictions and laws against the James Holmeses of the world? Holmes reportedly legally and lawfully owned each weapon that he allegedly used in the Aurora, Colo., theater massacre. What's more is that the purported thousands of rounds he allegedly had in his possession were legally purchased as well--online.
The other day as I strolled through a local Wal-mart, a familiar sight caught my eye. There nestled among the hunting rifles and various shotguns were several military-style rifles resembling the M-16. The M-16 and its variants are the preferred weapon of the U.S. armed forces and other nations around the world. Upon closer inspection I could see that these were not mere low-caliber lookalikes but in fact the civilian analogues of the military weapon, complete with 30-round magazine. There on the tag the description was plainly written, "Caliber .223 Remington/5.56 NATO". A few feet from the weapons was another locked case with several different brands of ammunition to fit the weapon.
For less than $600.00 someone could have the firepower of a combat soldier at their disposal. While this certainly is legal I paused to ask myself why a regular person would even need to have that kind of firepower. More importantly, I asked myself what would happen if some deranged person walked into the store with that kind firepower. At that moment, a cold shudder came over me. We would all be sitting ducks unless someone managed to disarm the attacker or is possibly armed as well. Regardless, the thought of my local Wal-mart becoming a war zone was not a pleasant thought.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of all is why has there been an apparent rash of these incidents lately? In three of the incidents, law enforcement officers were intentionally targeted and in all instances except the Sikh temple shooting, the civilians were apparently targeted at random. The motive for the Sikh temple shooting is believed to be racially motivated however, the gunman allegedly took the time to attempt to ambush responding police.
With the exception of the Sikh temple shooting, authorities have been careful not to label these acts as terrorism--including the Aurora massacre! Are these isolated incidents or could it be the beginning of a trend?
While there are as yet no apparent connections between these individual events, there is still a common thread among them all. Each gunman apparently believed that violence was the only way to get his point across--even if it meant shedding the blood of innocents.
There are those who may argue that James Holmes and the Texas A&M shooter could have committed those acts because of mental illness. The same could even be said of the other two incidents and every similar incident before and all that may occur in the future.
Do we blame such occurrences on mental defects or can we attribute them to the darkness hidden within the human psyche? Do we point the finger at some chemical imbalance in the brains of those who commit these heinous acts or is it a manifestation of the destructive nature that lies just beneath humanity's veneer of civility?
No matter what perspective we view these situations in, it is apparent that there are those who have no qualms about plunging over the edge of insanity and into the abyss.