San Ysidro... Columbine... Tuscon... high schools... students... children... politicians... daughters... fathers... mentors... and on goes the litany of loss that few seem to have the courage to stem. "Going postal" has just become another part of the vernacular, the hard edge of the repeated tragedies that lodged it in our vocabulary a blunted afterthought.
Aurora will not be a bookend to the mass killings that occur so frequently in the United States. In a few years, more likely weeks, the details will fade and blend in with other mass murders. We know this and while there may be a smidgen of dialogue on the matter one more time around, The Onion's article on the matter perfectly captured the sense of resignation rather than striking the amusing satirical chord it pursues. It will all unfold like clockwork and result in... nothing different.
For all the rage, heartbreak and tragedy that are such a palpable part of such tragedies it earns nothing more than a shrug from those closest to the tragedies and the NRA, who digs in to stand its ground and defend the obsolete Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The NRA's advocacy against breaking this chain of chain of behaviour is most specious and flimsy with the old, tired Guns Don't... line, but their investments in influencing politicians and voters to sustain the laws that further institutionalize gun use instead of institutionalizing gun users lends credence to the notion that the more ruthless the means the less worthy the cause.
America's collective shrug as gun-related deaths continue at the rate of three 9/11's a year is a demonstration of the impotence, stupidity or cowardice of the leadership in that country. Rather than mobilizing policy to inconvenience gun buyers to the extent that air travelers have been violated, X-rayed, strip-searched, put on no fly lists and inconvenienced for the last 11 years the politicians have sat on their hands because they get a little squeamish about something as icky as a gun remaining on a store shelf while determining if the guy buying poses a threat to society.
This may only be anecdotal, but there is plenty of evidence that it is easier to buy a semi-automatic rifle than get on a plane in the United States. (I'm done with the hyperbole.)
Depending on what wing nut you ask, allowing gun buyers to accumulate automatic assault weapons with minimal inconvenience ensures the public safety, sustains a constitutionally-enshrined freedom or makes ya 'Merkun, damnit. Guns, like any other technology, amplify the intent or actions of those using it. The amplification of the remorseless anger or insanity of James Holmes and everybody who has preceded him is something that is tolerated to the point that it has become all but a irregular ritual in America.
As with just about any other debate that occurs in the public forum today, whether it be north or south or the 49th, the proponents of either side are more interested in smearing their opponents and dealing in whatever spin or half-truths they can to score points, rather than conducting a dialogue that has even a modest chance of earning the respect of the public beyond the respective herds of sheep that will all but bleat support on cue. The asinine arguments of the perpetually tone-deaf NRA incredulously hold water because so few people are willing to conduct this discussion with an interest in the facts or sound, rational argument. It echoes the old George W. Bush line, "You're either with us or agin' us." There is no interest in middle ground or the nuances that lead anyone to anything resembling truth or reality.
So yet we shrug again and the sides of this debate remain paralyzed because they are all much more interested in being balkanized and dug in to support their side - regardless of the death tolls.