Time to take action

Published 7:01 pm Saturday, July 21, 2012

The technical term is “mass casualty incident.”
For emergency responders, that is what happened in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater shortly after midnight Friday morning at a premiere of the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”
The unfortunate reality is that we have seen this before: at a Jonesboro, Ark., middle school in 1998; at Columbine High School in 1999; at Virginia Tech in 2007; at Fort Hood in 2009; at a political rally in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011.
After each incident, we lament the senseless loss of life knowing full well that — someday, somewhere — this is going to happen again.
The suspect arrested in the Aurora case, 24-year-old James Holmes, was a model honor student with apparently no criminal history. Maybe that’s the reason he was able to purchase a Smith & Wesson AR-15 assault rifle, a Remington pump-action shotgun, two Glock .40 caliber handguns and 6,000 rounds of ammunition.
When he was taken into custody, Holmes was wearing a gas mask, a ballistic helmet, a tactical ballistic chest protector, ballistic leggings, a throat protector and groin protector. These are not typical purchases for a recent college student.
Authorities in Aurora announced that all of these were legal purchases, and maybe that’s part of the problem. These purchases were considered “normal” or “ordinary” in our society.
In the wake of 9/11, officials in New York launched a public awareness campaign urging residents and tourists, “If you see something, say something.” These purchases should have been identified as unusual, triggering some type of alert for law enforcement authorities.
As a nation, we also need to consider some type of restriction on assault weapons. They exist for one purpose only — to inflict a lot of harm to a large number of people in a short amount of time.
As one person noted, it took 15 seconds to load a ball into a musket and fire when the second amendment was passed. An assault rifle can fire 15 rounds in the same 15 seconds.
It may not bring an end to these senseless atrocities, but it is a first step.