Monica Bielanko
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Bad Guys, Bullets and the Batman Movie Massacre

I spent a lot of time avoiding the news today. Online, TV, folks shooting the shit at convenience stores, all of it. Dear God, I just couldn't bear a powdered and coiffed Shep Smith dramatically informing me about the shooter or revealing the first photo of him with barely concealed giddiness over scooping CNN or MSNBC or who the fuck ever.

I know how the news works. I spent more than a decade in a newsroom and am ashamed to say I clapped my hands with glee over scoring interviews, videotape or other such items surrounding murder and mayhem. Today I whispered a silent thanks to not be in a newsroom trying to come up with localized angles to the tragedy in Colorado. Could it happen here? Does anyone have any relatives in Aurora? Blah blah blah.

I feel guilty for not watching the news, for not learning the victims names, hearing their stories, and by doing so paying some sort of homage to their lives cut short in a most violent manner... But I just can't and the shame for not doing so is almost as bad as I'd feel had I actually tuned in and watched the interviews of survivors, studied shaky YouTube video from witnesses, listened to 911 calls of pure terror...

Anyway, if you're so inclined, leave a comment sharing your feelings on the whole thing... Did you watch news coverage? Has this, for you, been one of those times you can't shut off the TV, can't stop hearing the stories or, like me, was it all just too much to take?

My husband, as usual, wrote something that ripped exactly how I feel right out of my guts and splashed it onto my monitor.

I don’t trust a lot of these voices who keep harping on the 2nd Amendment anymore. I don’t trust the people who tell us that guns don’t kill people, that people kill people. That seems like a cop-out to me, a cutesy slogan you can march out any old time that blows the head off of a child or their mom or dad. They are ancient voices, these ‘patriots’ are. They’re just echoes from a by-gone era. I try and see clearly what they mean when they say we have to have our guns, but there is never any brighter future in their words that I can make out.

Who are they fighting for?

Exactly what are they fighting for?

Don’t tell me that it’s our God-given right to arm ourselves to the teeth in case some kind of Red Dawn thing goes down, because frankly, that’s just bullshit dipped in bullshit.

We are a nation whose military is mightier and more adept at protecting our own shores than any other country in this world or in the next one. And if the day ever comes when somebody figures out a way to blow past all that, I got news for you: a foe that tricky won’t be kneeling down in surrender as a bunch of unorganized local yokels march down Main Street with their semi-automatic rapid fire people destroyers.

Those days are over, ya’ll.

It won’t be a bunch of red-coats coming down the midnight pike on horses next time. Mankind has seen to that. It’ll be a cloud of something nastier and meaner than anything you could ever dream. It will be a long slivering snake in the sky and it would be a cold day in hell when you or me could hope to pop a bullet hole in.

Click here to read The Heart of a Gun: Bad Guys, Bullets and the Batman Movie Massacre in its entirety.

Reader Comments (25)

I didn't follow the news too closely today either, mostly because I was in a quiet office and was supposed to be working. But I was fascinated by sites like reddit and Twitter gathering news and first person accounts. There was a communal sense of information gathering and not rabblerousing. The reddit threads especially were encouraging people NOT to hound random guys on Facebook with the same name as the shooter. They were keeping counts of the victims that were released from the hospital and championing a sense of calm rather than fervor. But that was early today, I'm sure it got ugly over time in places. But anyway, those crowdsourced media environments gave me a little hope.

July 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

I keep trying to post on Babble, but it's not showing up. What's going on??

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterH.

I am saddened by the tragic loss of life. I don't watch traditional news if I can help it, because I agree that the mentality behind the "scooping" and "digging" leave a bad taste in my mouth. I also dislike the immediate reaction to take away guns. I am not a gun enthusiast, but I am a firearm owner. I live in an area where threats from people are few, but I live in a rural area where predators are many. They range from racoons eating 30+ of my chickens in a weekend to mountain lions and grizzly bears on my front porch (no exaggerations!). I also have small children. I am not in the middle of nowhere, carving a log cabin out of the woods, merely live in a rural setting where I like my kids to play outside. I cannot live where I live without some knowledge and ability to use firearms.
I do not need an assault rifle to protect myself or my children, but I do need access to tools that do. A big stick and a can of pepper spray will not do it, that is just seasoned kabob.
There has to be a middle ground that keeps people safe. I doubt more regulation will do that. I do think more help and less stigma for people with mental disorders would be a good start. Early intervention and education would be my preferences for my tax dollars rather than regulation.

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermtkountrygal

Wow. I couldn't agree more. Thank you both for the post!

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

When one of these tragedies have occurred in the past, be it 9/11, the tsunami, Waco, etc, I have consumed all the media I could get my hands on. Somehow, if I read and watched enough, maybe I could find some sort of clarity, an understanding. This time, I can't. There is no understanding. It is too much. I've stopped watching. No CNN, no articles, no nothing.

More of my thoughts:

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergin

@Gin - I was the same way you describe after Columbine, 9-11 etc - watching news almost obsessively... But this, for some reason, has me almost fearful of watching the news. I don't know if it's because I'm more emotional as a person now or less stable, but I just can't do it.

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who...

Wackos will always find a way to get guns. I only wish someone in that theater had been packing heat. Maybe then fewer innocent people would have died, and the wacko would be dead.

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill

I watched last night. I watched Ann Currey and I don't know why. I think it's because I can't understand why someone would do something like this. It makes me so very sad for humanity, but then you hear how people helped each other in the theater, and I hope that's what it's really about. When push comes to shove that most people will help each other and not hurt each other. What makes me even more sad is what he also did to his apartment. He wanted to cause terror...perhaps have people over there so they didn't know about the theater as quickly.

As a parent of 3 young children I am often struck by the fact that these "mad" people (be it men or women) were young once...

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessie

I just can't watch any of it. Nothing, I can't take it. I don't know why this one is the one I can't handle, but it is. I am not watching anything that wasn't recorded by me, as in "So you think you can dance" Normally I want to know, but I just can't hear about this long term and in detail.

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkds

I have been afraid to watch the news - this shooting is just too heart-breaking, too senseless. It breaks my heart - those poor people will never be the same again. And some of the commentary just angers me, especially the insinuations that this happened because we aren't "Christian" enough as a nation. I may not be a Christian - or much of anything - but I can't even begin to fathom why someone would do something so horrible.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpostmormongirl

The guy used tear gas. I don't care what a citizen might have been packing, if they weren't also wearing a mask, they would have been rendered impotent. The most that would have happened would citizens opening fire in a confined space hoping to hit the gunman and more than likely killing/hurting their fellow movie patrons. I'm not anti-gun, but I think the logic that more guns would have resulted in less loss of life is ridiculous. This killer had everything planned to a T with every possibility covered.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjeneria

It's tragic and senseless and horrendous. People go to the movies and then...get killed?! I mean, come on, what the FUCK.

I'm in Australia, and since the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 (35 people killed) -- following which gun ownership laws were tightened up to within an inch of their life -- there have been almost no mass shootings. That says something. There was one in 2002 but that was it (and even THAT was one too many). I can't believe the NRA has so much pull and power in the US, and that politicians are tiptoeing around them and pandering to them.

It just smacks of disingenuousness to me when politicians say all the right words and attend vigils and blah blah blah...but then no one bothers to change the goddamn laws that allow lunatics to get a gun as easily as they would a pack of cigarettes. Good God. Because, apparently, deranged wankers and their "right" to bear arms (and murder people) are more important than innocent people trying to live their lives. Just...WTF.

I wrote a blog post yesterday about the shootings, and included within it the following brilliant article from The New Yorker which you may have read:

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPretzel Thief

It does not take a gun to create a murderer. Not everyone in our society needs to own guns but some people opt to live a more sustainable life, hunting their own food, giving thanks for the nourishment, honoring the lives that fuel our own. What happened in CO is a senseless tragedy but not indicative of all gun ownership.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Berry

I have a close relative who was shot to death, murdered, randomly while out with friends. I know what these families are going through and how fucked up their future is going to be for a while and I can't watch one second of it.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

I always avoid the news on tragic events like this. When I was in college, a young woman was violently murdered on our tiny, idyllic campus. While we students tried to wrap our brains around the reality of what had happened, and to pay respect to the young woman who was lost, reporters were all over us. They kept harassing us, desperate for information, shining their blinding lights onto our candle light vigil. It was appalling. I am not saying reporters are appalling, but the way they sought the news and failed to respect what was going down was really disturbing to me. Since then, I don't watch news reports on things like this, because I feel like that would be participating in the sensationalization of it all.

That being said, I feel deeply for the families of those who were lost and injured. I think about them, pray for them, and thank God that I and my family are safe. This time. I don't know what this world is coming to. I can't bear to imagine what the world will look like when my little girl is my age. All I can do is hope that we can teach this next generation something good. Maybe they can find a way to live peacefully together.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commentererose

There is positively no shame whatsoever in not watching the continuing news programs... We know what happened, and a lot of the reporting (at the very beginning) is speculation at the very best-- just people talking. I watched a little bit of the coverage, but turned it off when I needed to. This is going to fuel the fear of "we're not safe anywhere!!" which can be true yet untrue at the same time, right. A little prayer to all of those involved and a another prayer to get the guns out of peoples' hands...

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

The day before, my husband and I had just watched the movie "We need to talk about Kevin". Sure, a great movie and well acted but we thought to ourselves, thank god this is only a movie and that kid is only make believe. Then, we hear the news about the Batman movie killings and we both thought, oh shit this guy is a real Kevin. Horrible doesn't quite describe it. Here in Australia it has been front paper news but I don't think our coverage was quite the same as what you guys had (from the sounds of it).

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

I turned the news off as soon as I saw it. My 5 year old daughter is usually up while I'm getting ready for work and pays more attention to the news than I would like sometimes. Two weeks ago, an eight year old and a thirteen year old were abducted from a nearby town and she saw that one before I turned off the news. There were lots of questions and she was scared. I decided to sheild her a bit from this one, probably more for my own comfort level than hers. The news was on at work and I really don't understand all the blame that is being thrown around. It's saddens me that at a time when we need to come together, we're too busy placing blame.

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKendra

If you want to hunt get a bow and arrow. Dont let your children play outside when there is a bear or a mountain lion on your front porch. Set traps to protect your animals. I am sorry but I agree completely with The Pretzel Thief. If we make it harder for people to get guns or even eliminate the potential for private citizens to own one then it will be easier for the police and proper authorities to see who the bad guy is. There is absolutely no legitimate reason for a private citizen to be able to obtain an assault rifle. If you feel like you need to protect your home get a taser with a site that can shoot. I share the exact same opinion as you and Serge. I am an American and Americans can be such fucking idiots. (Not saying that was your and Serge's opinion just mine)

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Gagne

BTW Kate Berry. No one said this incident is indicative of all gun ownership. Get a grip. I feel that it is because of statements like that things like this happen. "Dont let one crazy person spoil it for the rest of us" I'd rather have it "ruined" for me than have to continue to worry about things like this happening. I know that eliminating guns does not eliminate criminals but what would this incident have looked like if he wouldnt have been able to get his hands on those weapons...

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Gagne

Heartbreaking, any murder is heartbreaking but these massacres, which is what they are, like Dunblane, Port Arthur, Omagh, Coloumbine, Waco, Virginia, then last year in both Arizona and Norway, this year, we had the one in June, in Canada and now this one, and thats just the ones I can remember with out researching. So many people dying for no reason what heartless bastards can do these things, it is just a senseless loss of life and in such a painful way not just for the people that die but for the people that live too.

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSaffron G

Really, Sarah? Don't let your kids play outside if there's a mountain lion or bear on your front porch (duh)? What about if the animals are in the woods and not visible? Maybe I can just use my taser if they attack my kids? You must be a city girl...

I'm a woman and a gun owner in the upper Midwest. I carry a gun when I'm out walking with my daughter because there have been bear confrontations around here. Sorry, but pepper spray or a taser isn't going to work on every bear - the only thing that will is a bullet.

And there are actually people in this country who depend on the meat that they hunt to feed their families. Hunt with a bow and arrow?? Not such a great way to hunt if you're actually depending on the meat to get you through the winter. I'm a great shot with a bow and arrow, but sure wouldn't want to depend on my bow hunting for food.

I'm all for private citizens not being able to own assault weapons. But I don't think there is any reason to totally restrict access to handguns, shotguns and rifles. Do more thorough background checks and have better warning bells in place. More regulation in this area is very necessary.

The thing that is troubling to me about all of the outrage over this tragedy (and please don't infer that I'm minimizing what happened in CO - I think it's horrendous) as far as gun ownership goes is that other things take innocent lives and I don't see the same outrage. Take drunk driving, for instance - statistically you have a better chance of being killed by a driver impaired by alcohol than you do by a gun. Why no outrage over alcohol consumption and driving? Alcohol also causes many other problems, like abuse, that are widespread and horrific and leave long-lasting scars. If we're talking about taking away things that we use selfishly (as Serge mentioned in his post) that cause harm, how about taking away alcohol along with the guns?? And throw cell phones in there, too, for that matter...

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterH.

In our less tham perfect world for every crazed killer on the trigger-end of a gun there oughta be at least one heat packing hero with a quicker draw and better aim sitting close enough to take him out before ANYONE else is killed. IF only...

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGina

Stricter gun laws will only serve to keep guns out of the hands of people who abide by laws. Foreign threats aren't the only ones out there and I'm not incredibly inclined to rely on our government for protection aganst even that.

July 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDayna

If we stop watching, then we deprive these violent people the audience that they so desperately desire. This is a terrible thing that has happened, but I really do think that our society is driven too much today by fear. Fear is used as a weapon against the people to drive them into agreeing to all sorts of things that they never would have agreed to had they not been driven nearly insane with fear (Iraq war, anyone?) One response is to stop listening- turn off the TV and don't watch the news. No one is making you watch, you are a willing participant in the spectacle every time you make yourself part of the audience. If the news is important enough, you'll read about it on the internet in your own time (without the kids watching and being upset about it). My kid doesn't even know about the shooting, and at 8 years old, I think that's more than fine with me.

Guns: Gun violence is horrible. I'm not going to spout a bunch of cliches here, but as a practical matter a lot of people do still use guns to hunt for food. I know, I know, a lot of people are going to say things like "no one needs to hunt any more" but please understand that you are coming from a different place than many americans inhabit. Your version of reality isn't the only one out there. Some people hunt because they want to eat. Period. Also, I have personally been glad that I had the opportunity to have a gun in my hand once when someone broke into my house when I was there. It did not take them long to leave. I am not saying that no guns should be outlawed, or that guns are always a good thing. I'm just telling you a couple of personal experiences that will hopefully represent a little bit of the other side of this debate. I can actually see both sides of the issue and both sides have valid points. It's not a cut and dried issue, is it?

July 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterM.
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