What To Do About Aurora??

As I’ve followed the tragic killings in Aurora, CO, I wondered about what would drive a person to do such a heinous act.  How did he go from a brilliant doctoral student to a mass murderer?  What could anyone have done to stop him?  What can we do to prevent it from happening again?

The Colorado theatre shootings were a massive tragedy.  And such questions as these may never be answered.

In light of the Aurora murders, the debate over gun control has surged to the forefront of the American consciousness.  Some say if guns had been outlawed, the shooter would not have had access to them.  Others contend if guns are outlawed, only outlaws, who disobey laws, are the ones who would have them.  What are we to conclude in such divisive debate?

Finally, I decided to do some research.  Here’s what I found in a simple internet search on the history of gun control and its ramifications:

In 1911, Turkey established gun control.  From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, deprived of the means to defend themselves, were rounded up and killed.

In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control.  From 1929 to 1935, about 20 million dissidents were captured and killed.  Millions more were sent to gulags over the next 50 and more years of Soviet rule.

In 1938, Germany established gun control.  From 1939 to 1945, over 13 million Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, mentally ill, union leaders, Catholics and others, deprived of the means to defend themselves, were rounded up and killed in prisons and concentration camps.  Adolph Hitler said the establishment of gun control in his regime in Nazi Germany was the single largest cause in the consolidation of his totalitarian control.

In 1935, China established gun control.  From 1948 to 1952, about 20 million dissidents were murdered.  Dissidents in China are still persecuted, forced from their homes and employment and often imprisoned.

In 1956, Cambodia established gun control.  From 1975 to 1977, over 1 million “educated people” were rounded up and killed.

In 1956, Guatemala established gun control.  From 1964 to 1981, over 100,000 native Mayans, deprived of the means to defend themselves, were slaughtered.

In 1970, Uganda established gun control.  From 1970 to 1979, 300,000 Christians were murdered after horrific persecution.

The cost of nations establishing gun control has been approximately 55,900,000 million people in about 30 years, or 186,334 people per year.  On the other hand, Switzerland has never had gun control, and has consistently had the lowest murder/suicide rates in the entire Western world.

Edmund Burke said, “Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”  My simple internet research leads me to wonder if those who wish to control guns are, in their zeal to right a wrong, seeking to condemn our country to repeat the same fate as these ill-fated peoples, in a knee-jerk emotional reaction to this senseless tragedy.

So, what to do?  I read of people who refuse to attend the movie, or any movie, because of it.  I don’t believe this is an appropriate reaction, either.

It’s not the movie’s fault, or the fault of movies in general.  The writers, director, cast and crew certainly didn’t make it with the intent of movie-goers being killed in their theatre seats. To refuse to see it is to deny them the right of us as moviegoers honoring and appreciating their hard work.  The movie’s star Christian Bale has been photographed in Aurora, showing sympathy for the victims and their families.   Not going it or to the movies at all seems like a cat who, after being burned on a hot stove, refuses to get on any stoves, even cold ones, for fear of burning.  It’s like the reactions of people who refused to fly after September 11.  By not flying, their fear let terrorism win.

I cannot say I am any kind of expert on these complicated questions.  But what I have learned tells me when we have knee-jerk reactions into extremism of any kind to senseless, human-caused tragedy, the bad guys win Tragedies are times to stop, grieve and let the grief process take its time with us.  Decisions made in the heat of a tragedy’s emotional aftermath are all too often later regretted, and even more often far too difficult to undo.

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What “America” Means To Me

English: North America: orthographic projectio...

A recent study by Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project shows the world’s attitude towards the United States.  China came out on top. It also shows many in the world, particularly in the Middle East, feel the US tends to act unilaterally and is inconsiderate of other countries.

However, many also still see America as a champion of freedom, innovation and passion — characteristics we’ve always valued.

America is on TV all the time,” South African Lesego 

Mercator-proj

Seitisho says, “and when the TV is off and America is still switched on in your mind, you see it’s like the land of the free… people live freely.”

All of this got me thinking, what does America mean to me?  And then I began to wonder, what does it mean to you??  Let’s start a dialogue.

choices

America is a where we make choices We make choices of our political leaders.  We make a choice to rise above negative circumstances.  We make a choice to do something about things we don’t like.  We make a choice to become educated and to educate our children.  We make a choice to chart our own course in life, no matter what anyone else says.  We make a choice to believe, or to not believe, in whatever we want.  We make a choice to be who we want to be, say what we want to say, do what we want to do and have the right to make those choices freely, within the confines of law.  We make choices about dozens of things on a daily basis, all freely and independently, with no one telling us we cannot make them, or what we have to choose.

America is where we live without fearWe live safely in most areas of our towns and

Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Fear was made i...

Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Fear

cities.  We believe what we want and say what we want, and not fear someone will harm us or our families.  We openly worship in our churches, synagogues, temples and mosques freely and without fear.  We speak of our beliefs openly and honestly, without fear of persecution.  We have open and even contentious political debate.  Our media says what it wants without fear of someone in power shutting it down because they don’t like it.  We don’t fear the criticism of the rest of the world when we make a mistake, because we know we are free to have it exposed, admit it and rectify it.  And when we don’t like what someone says or does, we can protest, and speak our minds without fear of reprisal.

Two young girls sharing a plate of spaghetti. ...

America is where we share ourselves freely with the world, sometimes to our detriment.  We freely educate our children and the children of our immigrants, even illegal ones.  We export the best (and sometimes worst) of ourselves in our television, music, literature, movies and people as tourists, diplomats and service members go abroad.  We are one of the very few places in the world that has a problem of too many people wanting to get in, not out.  This is actually a good problem to have, if you stop and think about it.

America is a nation founded on people who believed in freedom. Freedom to go out

en: Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Wayne, PA

Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Wayne, PA

and build a future for themselves and their families in their own businesses.  Freedom to be educated in classics so they understood the past and could interpret the times correctly.  Freedom to believe God had a higher purpose for their lives, and it was their duty to fulfill it.  Freedom to spend their golden years in selfless sacrificial service to their country and humanity.

Yes, we have issues.  Yes, we are often like a dysfunctional family.  But, like most dysfunctional families, we pull together when times are tough, when we are attacked from without and show ourselves to be strong, resilient and resolved.  World Wars I & II

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...

September 11, 2001

and the aftermath of September 11 showed that to the world.

America is free as long as we remember it, and as long as we do what keeps us free.  That’s what America means to me.  What about you? 

American flag