Tragedy struck Aurora, Colorado last Saturday when a gunman, now identified as Sonny Archuleta, executed several hostages he had taken inside his suburban townhome. SWAT teams and police officers responded to the scene and were fired at from Archuleta’s second story window before they stormed the house. Both sides exchanged fire and, regrettably, Archuleta was killed and therefore will not stand trial for his actions.
These events hold a particular significance in that Aurora is the same town that was devastated last July when James Holmes opened fire in a local movie theatre at the midnight premiere screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Many have speculated that the two crimes may be in some way related. There are several factors pointing to the validity of this correlation, most notably that this shooting took place the weekend before Holmes was to return to court for his preliminary hearing for over 160 cumulative counts of murder, attempted murder, and other charges.
Regardless of whether or not these crimes are indeed related, however, they catalyze a conversation that has become increasingly omnipresent over the past few months in our nation. Recently, America has experienced such horrors as James Holmes’ shooting, the Newtown massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary and, most recently, Archuleta’s actions. These crimes represent a growing trend of gun violence that exists not only in high-profile shootings but in everyday life as well.
For example, according to The Huffington Post,over 5,000 people have been killed by gun violence in Chicago over the last 11 years, which is more than double the total American casualties in Afghanistan in the same time period. Everywhere we look, gun violence and discussion of it is rampant, but very little seems to be actually changing for the positive.
At this point, it seems as though it may be fair to posit that the only way to truly end gun violence in America is to do away with gun ownership in this country as a whole. The step may seem entirely too drastic, but increased gun education and awareness programs seem not to have made a noticeable impact in curbing these horrific events.
It seems as though the decisions that need to be made by our nation over the next few years require a great deal of personal sacrifice. Regardless of what your stance is on gun control, the notion cannot be denied that a society without guns will eliminate-or, at least, greatly reduce-gun violence.
According to The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 234 people were shot in America today alone (Jan. 8, 2013). We as Americans need to determine whether or not we want more fervently to cling to a right based in outdated need or work towards establishing a society in which it is safe to go to a movie, to go to school, to cross the street.
Perhaps the first step towards building a society free of gun violence would be to rid ourselves of the mindset that the individual will to change is not effective. The steps that we take as individuals need not be large in order to amount to something effective.