After Aurora: If Gun Laws Are Off the Table, Where Is the Plan B?
The nation, and its political leaders, cannot accept mass shootings as simply a routine part of American life. At least 12 innocent people were killed Friday at a suburban movie theater in Aurora, Colo., the latest in a procession of attacks by disturbed gunmen — a list that includes the 1999 massacre in Columbine, barely a half-hour away from the site of the latest shooting.
Each incident provokes a now-predictable reaction: a round of hand-wringing — followed by nothing. The most obvious preventive measure, tighter gun control laws, has been taken off the table. Both political parties — the Republicans by inclination, the Democrats by calculation — refuse to consider stricter rules. And federal courts have been increasingly unfriendly to existing gun control laws.
But if political leaders can’t enact common-sense gun limits, they have an obligation to come up with an alternative strategy to prevent such horrifying acts. An answer may lie in more monitoring of ammunition and military equipment purchases, more aggressive mental health intervention, or more sophisticated policing methods. The portrait of the suspect in Friday’s shooting, James Holmes, 24, is still coming into focus. But he was apparently able to acquire a weapon, ammunition, a smoke device, a bulletproof vest, and a gas mask.