Inevitably you've heard about it or read about it. It's impossible to not know about the deplorable violence that happened in Colorado over the weekend. Like many, when I first heard about the Aurora theater shooting, I was heartbroken.
Anyone would and should be. A random, senseless act took the lives of 12 people and injured 58 more. I was saddened that, as I took in a country music festival in Wisconsin with some of my closest friends and family members, just across the country, there were people who would never get to see people they love and care about again.
Unfortunately, as most things do, the story changed. People took sides: the pro-gun people to one side. The anti-gun people to another.
I will state right now that I am anti-gun, and I was terrified and offended, then enraged, by the pro-gun people who don't understand that a semi-automatic rifle was used with a specially purchased magazine to hold 100 rounds to ruin countless lives.
Pro-gun people on my Facebook wall were going so far as to post stories claiming that the entire incident was a hoax, that people were killed to boost the visability of the movie.
Allow me to editorialize for a moment: If you really believe this, then you truly don't deserve to be my friend or even someone whom I want to ever associate myself with. It's a sick and evil thing to say and believe in. This movie was set to be one of the biggest box office hits of the summer. People have been hyping the movie for nearly a year.
I also know that the people writing these stories probably don't believe them, but that they are pro-gun advocates trying to change the narrative. Trying to change the story.
But none of that matters. Nor should it. And it's hard to write about this, I can tell you that. I might be new to writing for Patch, but I have seen the vitriol in the comments sections. People acting with swagger in anonymity, able to say horrible, hurtful things because someone else doesn't agree with their stance.
I try not to be heavy handed in my writing. I really don't. It's not fair to the victims and the people that knew and cared about them. My feelings have gone back to sadness.
Mostly, I realize that my words, themselves, might not change anything. As President Obama said yesterday, "Words are inadequate." It's true. We can't say anything to magically make people come back to life.
In the same way, i'm not going to magically say something today to make every gun owner reading this lay down their weapon and walk away. There will be a million excuses. I've already heard them all. I've heard them from other family members.
I understand why gun owners want their weapons. I understand the collectors who have taken it as a hobby to hold pieces of history in their hands and say, proudly, that they own them. I've spent two decades collecting sports memoralbilia and feel the same way about some of my prized possessions.
I understand the home owners who keep a handgun in their house as a form or protection. If you do, please, please, keep it away from children.
I understand the hunters. Hunting is a tradition that dates back to before guns were ever invented. It's also a hobby. Plus, hunters are some of the most knowledgable gun owners I've met. They know every working piece of their gun and they treat the gun with respect, only using it in the hunt.
I don't, on the other hand, understand conceal-and-carry advocates, nor do I understand people who need to own semi-automatic rifles.
The popular thing to say has been "If someone in the audience had a gun, this would have never happened." There are two ways to look at this statement. A) the person wouldn't have shot up a movie theater if he thought someone was going to shoot back. Or, B) someone would have shot him once he started shooting.
On the former, perhaps in some situations, this is true, but the telltale signs have been emerging that this person was going to do something. The shooter was going to do something despicable and irrational regardless of who was holding a gun in that theater.
On the latter, you must all stop saying this, if that is your meaning. Guns give people irrational confidence. I'm not sure when everyone who holds a gun decided they were a combination of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne, but you CANNOT say that you would have been able to stand up in the chaos, lay aim, and take out a person firing at you.
Nobody knows how they will react to a situation like that. Gun owners, though, seem to have a collective feeling that just because they can hit a target in a gun range, that this would have been no problem. It's not true.
Again, I'm trying not to go too over the top on this, but the things pro-gun people have been saying in the days since the incident make me believe that most people shouldn't have guns.
Again, if you are offended by this, I apologize to you for my beliefs. Tear me to shreds in the comments section if you want.
But first, I want you to do what I did when I got back in the state today. I gave my 6-month-old niece a kiss. It's all I've thought about for two days. How lucky I am that she is in my life, and how quickly that can go away.
Find a loved one today. Let them know how much they mean to you, and how much you care about them. Nobody is promised tomorrow. For some, all we have is today. Think about all the people in Colorado who never got a chance to do that.
It's people, not things, that matter. It's courage to stand up against something you know to be wrong. It's about words saving lives. Not bullets. Most importantly: It's about taking the time to enjoy the people you have in your life as much as you can, while you can.
It's about being so lucky to wake up every day knowing that there is someone else waking up that cares about you, that depends on you, that means the world to you. It's about trying to change the world, even in your own little way.
And for me, if my words resonate with at least one person, then I've done more than a million bullets ever could.