NEWS BLOG: The guns in Aurora


What would compel a 24-year-old to walk into a movie theater armed with four guns and open fire

What would compel a 24-year-old to walk into a movie theater armed with four guns and open fire? The suspect in that horror this morning is a college graduate student, so presumably he knew exactly what devastation he would create.

And devastation it was: 12 dead so far, dozens more wounded.

Reading and listening to the accounts from Aurora, Colorado, you just feel numb.

I'm seeing conflicting reports about what kind of guns the suspect had, but clearly we can reduce gun violence of all kinds by reducing gun availability. Just as clearly: unless guns are eradicated throughout the world, someone intent on owning a gun specifically to kill people will find a way to get a gun.

We can toss out plenty of questions as the investigation in Aurora proceeds. Did no one, for instance, see the suspect - wearing a gas mask and carrying four guns - entering this theater?

What happened in the life of this obviously troubled young man that resulted in this carnage? Were signs of trouble ignored?

And what about the increasing amount of violence in pop culture? Is it enough to say that most people are not affected by the movies they see, the games they play? Is the result an acceptance of the impact that fictitious violence has on a troubled mind?

"Mass killers are determined, deliberate and dead-set on murder," James Alan Fox, a NortheasternUniversity criminology professor, wrote on earlier today. "They plan methodically to execute their victims, finding the means no matter what laws or other impediments the state attempts to place in their way. To them, the will to kill cannot be denied."

Right. But it's hard to argue that we shouldn't do all we can to reduce access to the means of mass murder.

"Mass murder," Fox writes "is regrettably one of the painful consequences of the freedoms we enjoy."


Is that statement one of simple realism? Or too quick an acceptance of a problem we can do something about?