I have so many thoughts about what happened a few days ago in Aurora, Colorado and the reaction this country has had the days following. I’m a bit of a news junkie. I’ve been glued to CNN, MSNBC and the local news. Living in San Diego, and just a few miles away from the suspect’s family, the local news has been glued to this story trying to uncover everything they can about this man. When I first read about this horrible event, I was walking home from seeing a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Reading that something horrific had just happened at something similar to what I just attended immediately draws you in to it in a weird inexplicable way. And who didn’t know someone who went to a midnight showing of that movie or had been planning to see it opening day?
But this always seems to be the way with these horrible events whether it be outside a grocery store, at a college campus, a high school campus, an elementary school, or even a McDonald’s. I think that is what connects us to these events and shocks us to the core - they happen in seemingly normal, safe places that we’re all familiar with. I mention McDonald’s because one of the worst shooting massacres this country has ever seen occurred at a McDonald’s in San Diego County when I was 7 years old. 21 people died. I may not remember much from my childhood but I remember that. Five years earlier, and also in San Diego, a shooting spree at an elementary school would later inspire the song “I Don’t Like Mondays.”
Mass shootings aren’t anything new and I feel like I shouldn’t be shocked every time they happen. But I am. And I think it’s because it’s mostly disappointing. It’s disappointing that we as a society haven’t been able to learn and adapt from these horrible tragedies to try our best to make sure they don’t happen or at least don’t happen as frequently as they seemingly do. It’s disappointing that we just continue to report about the deaths of our citizens and children on the nightly news and not even attempt to change things.
Remember the reasonable talk about gun control we had after Congresswoman Giffords was shot? No, I don’t either. It seemed like people were ready to talk about it but the talking ultimately never happened. Why is that? Is it because the NRA is one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington that has ties to both parties? Is it because gun enthusiasts constantly appear to make it seem that if we ban assault weapons that it’s just a short slippery slope to banning all guns and infringing on their Second Amendment right? Is it because enthusiasts refuse to budge or compromise on any issue regarding any form regulation? Or is it all of the above?
Answer: It’s all of the above.
Less than 24 hours after the shooting in Colorado, former Arizona Senator Russell Pearce posted on his Facebook that if only victims were armed in the theater that they could have taken down the shooter, and he asked where the bravery was that night. He received so much criticism for disregarding the bravery of the victims (two of which were servicemen and three of which flung themselves onto their girlfriends and saved their lives) that he started deleting comments that didn’t agree with his view and eventually deleted his entire post with no apology. A later post (that was also eventually deleted) said his first post had been “mischaracterized” by the media, but then it ultimately went on to again blame victims for not being armed.
The answer of “if only more people were armed” seems to have become the default stance the GOP has taken on this issue, as Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson also expressed this view Sunday morning on Fox News.
On the other side of the spectrum, a few Democratic leaders are slowly calling for a ban on assault weapons. One argument against this is that if we take one type of gun away, they will try to take all the guns away which will infringe upon our Second Amendment rights. Except that people seem to have forgotten we had an assault weapons ban for ten years from 1994-2004, and I don’t recall every gun being taken away during that time. Please correct me if I’m wrong about that.
Other arguments are that it will do no good, that it won’t fix things as we still have problems with mental health, that people will still acquire these guns illegally, and that if people want to kill they will find other ways. Are any of these actually valid reasons for not even trying to solve this problem? If gun control laws wouldn’t work to reduce violence, as GOP lawmakers say, then why not have them in place anyways? What would it hurt? I would rather be proven wrong with laws in place then just hypothesizing about their effectiveness or lack thereof.
We change flight boarding rules and regulations when we’re attacked by plane, we recall children’s toys when they’re possibly made with hazardous material, we regulate cold medicine that’s found to be used to make meth… we do so much to adapt to other horrible events but when it comes to mass shootings we seem to be frozen in quicksand and we continue to sink.
For the record, when I say “gun control laws” I mean an assault weapons ban, closing the gun show loophole (which a recent survey of NRA members shows that a majority of them actually support this action as well), restricting massive amounts of ammunition, and better background checks in regards to mental health. I do not mean taking all guns away or trying to repeal the Second Amendment. I recognize the Second Amendment and its right for citizens to bear arms. But I also recognize that the writers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights could not have foreseen the evolution of firearms 200 years into the future. We’ve been amending the Constitution ever since its inception to adapt to the times — ensuring the right for women to vote, abolishing slavery, etc. — but we still take the Second Amendment word for word as when we were afraid of being attacked by the British. Are we still afraid of being attacked by the British?
Unfortunately, our current set of lawmakers will not discuss this issue. Their answer of “more guns” and non-answers of deleting Facebook comments rather than have a discussion shows that they will not budge. The GOP will continue to say they are focused on jobs while they continue to try and dismantle abortion across the country. By the way, abortion, according to the United States Supreme Court, is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution, yet you don’t see the GOP attempting to protect that part of the Constitution as much as they try and protect the Second Amendment. The GOP-controlled state of Mississippi has admitted to attempting to completely wipe out this federally protected right from their state. If they can try and wipe out one federal right, why not another? It’s selective on the part of the GOP to choose and pick which parts of the Constitution they want to uphold.
As for the other part of this problem, there’s no denying that we need to address mental health in this country. It’s something we as a society and parents and teachers don’t always see in people as they grow up because a lot of symptoms of psychosis appear in men in their late teens and early 20s, and in women in their mid-20s and early 30s. I wish I knew what we could do better for this, but I don’t know. All I know is we need to address this and not just to save people from becoming victims of these horrible types of attacks but to also save the people who are likely to inflict these attacks.
It’s been nothing short of amazing seeing the families tell their stories on the news and turn this tragic event around to focus on those fallen. The media has even seemingly started to adapt to this way of thinking. There’s still bursts of sensationalism here and there with plastering the shooter’s picture on their screens and re-enacting the crime with digital models, but ultimately the focus kept coming back to those killed or wounded.
We have the possibility to do so much as a society with compassion and care. This much I know because I’ve seen it come out of Aurora this weekend. Hearing the amazing stories of survival and forgiveness, and the overall response and sense of community from that city shows that we are capable of this.
Yet why do I feel as if we won’t do anything?
”How does one argue with someone convinced that the routine massacre of our children is the price we must pay for our freedom to have guns, or rather to have guns that make us feel free?”
DC’s most recent wave of newly announced titles just continued my suspicion that, aside from their main core and Wildstorm titles, they are really striving to go back in their time machine to the 1980s.
The initial wave of titles included “Justice League International,” “The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men,” “Blue Beetle,” “Suicide Squad,” “Hawk and Dove,” “Swamp Thing,” “Animal Man,” “Captain Atom,” “DC Universe Presents,” “I, Vampire” and “Demon Knights” which all had similar titles in the ’80s (with “I… Vampire” being the main story that was running in “The House of Mystery” and Etrigan having his own mini-series before launching a full series in 1990). Interestingly enough (to me at least), the original ’80s “Justice League International” title started out as “Justice League” before adding the worldly portion to the title and we were given both names as titles in this wave. Also something to note is that “OMAC” and “Deathstroke” were titles published in 1991, which isn’t so far off from the ’80s.
That’s 13 titles out of 52. Exactly 25% of their new line seemed like revamps from the ’80s.
Even though DC ended up cancelling four of these titles, they filled their gap and then some with their second wave and first major event.
"Earth 2" and "World’s Finest" are the first serialized stories of an alternate Earth’s team since "All-Star Squadron" and "Infinity, Inc." were published in the ’80s and really do replace those titles perfectly. "Night Force" was an original mini-series in 1982 and the "Before Watchmen" event added eight new limited titles spinning out of a 1986 publication.
And now with DC’s third wave, we have “The Phantom Stranger” and “Sword of Sorcery” featuring Amethyst. Both of which also had titles in the ’80s.
It’s true that some of these characters and titles have had other titles sprinkled throughout the ’90s and ’00s as well, but it’s interesting that many of these original titles happened the last time DC did a reboot after “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
Why so many titles that were around in the ’80s? I see two answers to this.
1.) DC is obviously trying to reclaim the last time they were extremely popular on the newsstands. The ’90s had some major popularity for their major characters, but it all seemed to be small spurts based on events like the death of Superman, the breaking of Batman, the dethroning of Wonder Woman, and the mental breakdown of Hal Jordan. While these definitely sold issues, they seemed short lived and creative teams couldn’t maintain the same amount of audiences afterwards.
2.) History is doomed to repeat itself. Many of these original titles aren’t the ones that you think of when you think about DC Comics in the 1980s. “Swamp Thing” and “Animal Man” went on to become favorites and eventually moved to the Vertigo imprint where they seemed to languish with low sales before cancellation. Interesting enough, these are the same two titles out of this current bunch that are doing the best with fans and critics. Quite a few of these other titles have constantly been showing up on short lists whenever DC announces they’ll be cancelling titles. Are they really that far behind?
Should be interesting to see whatever DC’s fourth wave of titles will be and whether or not it will seem to mirror that of what happened 25 years ago.