Like most people, I was shocked to learn about the shootings in Aurora, CO. My prayers are for the victims, the police officers and FBI agents working the case, the EMTs and doctors who had to ignore their own feelings to care for the wounded, the families of all involved, the community as a whole, and even the shooter. Today, I imagine this is the main topic of conversation on and offline. And, as it happens every time there is a newsworthy shooting, arguments about gun control and second-amendment rights crop up around the U.S.
But for me, it’s not even about guns. Massacres have been part of history since long before guns were even imagined. If someone wants to commit murder, s/he will find a way. The discussion on gun laws is clouding the real question: what is causing people to have this level of anger/hate and lack of conscience? We need to go to the root of the problem, not just focus on the tools used to commit the deed. What would people be talking about now if he had put poison in the popcorn butter? I believe the conversation today, and in days to come, should be less about blaming guns and violent movies, or crafting law, but more about how to recognize and help people with whatever issues are at the bottom of these shootings.
Many of my religious friends will argue that it’s simply a case of sin in the world and a need for God. I can agree with that, yet it seems like too simplistic an answer to satisfy my curiosity. When Cain killed Abel back in the beginning of recorded history, there was sin, yes, but also frustration, jealousy, and anger that came first.
People are often surprised to learn that I love all the subgenres of mystery fiction. Apparently it doesn’t jive with their perception of me. Part of the fun is solving the puzzle, and part of it is admiring the creativity of thinking up and developing the various scenarios from different viewpoints. The biggest part for me though, is trying to understand what motivates or causes people to act the way they do. There are no quick answers to why people commit crimes, but reading and studying crime and criminals, in addition to law enforcement personnel and techniques, allows me to consider different perspectives. My hope is that people will stop arguing about the obvious and look for the deeper concerns. And, while we are searching for the hard answers, be kind to your neighbors, talk with your kids, love and connect with your family, and remember everyone is dealing with something that may not be apparent at first glance.