This was written in the wake of the Tucson tragedy. (It is actually in my book too) If you change the names of the place and the victims, every word could apply to Aurora. I hope you may find it worth re-reading.
Barrie  (07/21/12)

Rutland Herald and Montpelier (Barre) Times Argus
Sunday January 23rd, 2011
By Barrie Dunsmore
There is much that is notable in the aftermath of the Tucson tragedy. As I’ve watched events and interviews with those directly involved, I’ve been taken, not just by the courage but the basic decency of those involved and how they have come together in their support for each other - and in their devotion to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was perilously close to death for several days and now faces months if not years of intense rehabilitation. Capped off by President Barack Obama’s thoughtful speech which effectively calmed troubled waters, the Tucson tragedy has increasingly been presented as a feel good story. Nothing wrong with that - except – for the six people who violently died that day including the lovely nine year old Christina Green. (We learned this past week that Christina’s corneas have been transplanted to restore the sight of two other youngsters. That may be some solace to her parents but hardly enough to ease the pain they will feel for the rest of their lives.)
It is unlikely that any of the families of the dead or the living victims are anywhere near “closure”- the favorite media word to describe the supposed goal of those whose lives have been completely overturned by violent forces not of their making and beyond their control. Yet two weeks after Tucson, people in the rest of the country, especially including their political leaders, appear to have reached a kind of collective closure and are getting on with their lives as though nothing can be done to prevent such tragedies from happening – again and again and again.
While working abroad, I reported on the aftermath of the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. I was covering the State Department in Washington during the two attempts on Gerald Ford’s life and was very much involved in the follow-up coverage of Ronald Reagan’s near assassination. Let me stress that the only thing all this makes me an expert in, is the shock and pain I shared with millions of others on those occasions. But having had those life experiences does make me soundly reject one troubling idea - the notion that mental cases with access to guns are simply the price that must be paid for living in a free and democratic society.
For the moment, I choose not to engage in the argument over the potential consequences of the toxic political debate that has become the norm in the last two decades - and has become demonstrably worse in the two years since a black man was elected president.
I also see no point in trying to re-litigate the 2008 and 2010 Supreme Court rulings on the Second Amendment which reversed a century of case law and extended gun rights to individuals (also apparently giving the NRA a clear cut victory in its decades long fight against gun control.) Since 2008 no major Democratic leaders, including the one now occupying the White House, have allowed the words “gun control” to escape their lips. This may represent a pragmatic concession to prevailing political winds but it is hardly a profile in political courage.
Yet, if the six deaths in Tucson, the 32 in Virginia Tech and all those others who have died at the hands of murderous people with far too easy access to deadly weapons are to have any meaning at all, it is going to take some form of courage to address this scourge. For far too long this has been an issue that has divided the left and the right – with the result that extremists have been able to have their way to the detriment of us all. I am not interested in taking people’s guns away. As it happens I do not hunt, but I respect the right of hunters to own guns, especially in a place like Vermont. I understand that hunting is very much of part of the American culture – as is for some, having guns for personal security. So I am hoping that perhaps now that the fundamental right to own a gun has been settled by the Supreme Court, liberals and conservatives might be able to come together on some common-sense rules governing such ownership.
A good start would be a discussion on the reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons which was allowed to lapse in 2004. Does anyone truly believe that the framers of the Constitution, wise and worldly men like Jefferson, Adams, Madison and Hamilton, would have thought it was a good idea that some of the more than two thirds of its citizens (there are 240 million guns for the just over 300 million of today’s Americans) have weapons that in less than a minute could be capable of wiping out an entire regiment of Washington’s Continental Army? Would erudite men who could read history in the original Greek and Latin and were legal scholars of their day, think it prudent that concealed weapons be legal in schools, workplaces, parks, churches, taverns, sporting events and the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives?
With gun ownership now an established personal right, given the lethal nature of guns should it not be possible for reasonable people to agree that this right should come with responsible licensing for owners and enforced regulations that make a serious effort to keep weapons out of the hands of the incompetent and/or mentally ill? How many more Tucsons, or Virginia Techs- or Kennedys and Kings will it take? This is why I respectfully but strongly disagree with the palliative nature of the news coverage of these tragedies. I’m not looking for feel good stories of the redeeming nature of humankind and I don’t want closure. That mind set only leads to passive acquiescence in an unacceptable status quo. I want remedial action. I want to see America try to correct a societal sickness that does it no honor - while causing so much pain. If not now- ever?
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