Accountability, in seriously short supply before last week, remains so even after the massacre Aurora, Colorado is now trying to fathom. It is not a moment too soon to say that as a nation and as a gathering of communities, we are miserably failing both the perpetrators and, as a result, the victims of such massacres.
Time and time again civic, community, and business leaders are day-late and a dollar-short, providing trite jeremiads about violent entertainment media or exploiting the tragedy to promote their pet cause in some ongoing culture war. In what has now become a periodic sacrifice of innocents for the apathetic bliss of a nation, we are complicit in the following areas: first, given the depraved scope of the crime, we refuse to acknowledge how crucial is the effort to protect all children from physical torment or humiliation.
As a nation, and within our communities, we have yet to acknowledge that no individual treated with nurturing love and respect that he or she deserved as a child, is capable of treachery like that wrought upon Aurora. One needs only to observe the magnitude of carnage to imagine what trauma could have warped a psyche so driven to commit these unspeakable acts. Our failure to protect children runs the risk of molding ‘sleeper agents’ capable of the slaughter movie goers endured in Aurora.
Second, and just as consequential, is when public sentiment caves in to the firearms industry’s resistance to reform. As usual, gun makers and vendors prevail over gun control efforts. The National Rifle Association’s sanctimonious messaging on the Bill of Rights’ Second Amendment provides bullet-proof ideological cover for the ease and accountability-free purchase and possession of guns. Indeed, a $4.1 billion industry is at stake.
So, what possible solution could we piece together to restore public safety and relieve the anxiety of gun owners?
We begin by taking a cue from the often ignored phrase of the Second Amendment that mandates a “well regulated Militia”. As it appears that a significant number of shooters tend to be socially isolated, gun registration could require owners to join and participate in an existing gun club or some kind of firearms affiliation. Registration could require a periodic gathering of owners for the purpose of reviewing safety, sharing best practices and maintenance methods. (Before the firearms industry and gun owners scoff in protest, they need reminding that all freedoms are accompanied by a measure of responsibility that makes said freedoms possible.)
The underlying purpose would be to establish a network of accountability among gun owners, as well as a trust-building interface with the greater public. Firearms no longer only represent a means for individual self-defense. They have ‘evolved’ to pose a constant threat to public safety that merits an equally defensive response.