In the wake of Aurora murders, Hickenlooper claims we live in a safe country, but outside a war zone, your best chance of being shot is in any major American city
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Waking to the news of the mass shooting in Aurora brought back haunting memories of 9/11, when the first few hours of the day also passed in a dizzying blur of glimpses at CNN, interspersed with caring for my lively four-year-old.
Friday morning, my thoughts again immediately turned to my son, who was not in the house as the news unfolded, but thankfully far away from Aurora, safely attending a camp at Copper Mountain.
We’ve been to a few midnight movie premieres here in Summit County in recent years, time that was always filled with pleasant anticipation, so I was able to imagine the vibe in the theater last night before the show started.
What I can’t even begin to imagine is the feeling of horror that must have prevailed in the moments when the shooting started, nor the indescribable grief that families of victims are feeling.
As I watched the first few hours of news coverage, I could see an all-too familiar pattern emerging, with initial details about the shooter, the victims, the police response, and finally, reaction and statements from elected officials.
What was missing was a sense of outrage that, in this day and age, an individual can amass that sort of arsenal and use it to do unspeakable harm in a public place. Some of that outrage surfaced here and there in a few sound bites and interviews, but the overall sense of the coverage was, here we go again, and when will it end?
It won’t end until someone — or all of us — takes a stand, and sadly, Gov. John Hickenloooper missed a golden opportunity to do just that. When I saw him preparing for his first public statement around mid-day, I was fervently hoping that he would seize the moment to take a stand against senseless slaughter and violence.
Instead, I heard platitudes and vague generalities, and most astonishing, an attempt to reassure people: “This is a safe city, a safe state, a safe country,” Hickenlooper said.
Really? How many of the people who were in the Aurora theater will feel safe the next time they attend a midnight movie premiere — if they ever do so again?
I would argue that outside an active war zone, your best chances of being shot by a random stranger is in any large American city, and I think most statistics on violent crimes support that assertion.
Hickenlooper would have served the people of this state far better by choosing that moment to take a strong stand on gun control, acknowledging that we have a serious problem with gun violence in Denver and around the country. He could have easily galvanized public opinion for meaningful gun control on the spot.
There will be people who will say that now is not the time to talk about gun control, that it’s a time to grieve. But the fact is, any delay represents a wasted opportunity to win support for reasonable changes to gun laws that actually would make people safer. And there’s probably no better way to honor and memorialize the victims of this and past shootings than by actually doing something to prevent it from happening again.
Today is the day to act to prevent the next senseless gun deaths. Call your congressman, sign an online petition, talk to your friends and neighbors — do something.