Saturday's one year anniversary of the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., came and went with and little attention.
The shooting, in which a mentally disturbed gunman killed 12 and wounded 70 after firing into a crowd with automatic weapons, briefly pushed the topic of gun control to the forefront of the nation’s attention. Sadly, this was also the case less than five months later following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which another mentally disturbed gunman killed 20 children and six adults.
Yet now, more than a full year after the Aurora shooting, there have been a grand total of zero legislative measures to curb such future tragedies. Despite weeks of intense debate in Washington following the shooting, no actions were taken by Congress, and we were only left with a series of Executive Orders by President Obama – which ultimately appear to be toothless initiatives comprised of broad-sweeping language and no congressional support.
Following the Aurora shootings, Congress discussed steps that would have sought to prevent future massacres by imposing stricter measures for gun ownerships. These proposals, which had significant public support, included: limiting the capacity of magazines for automatic weapons, conducting universal background checks for anyone purchasing a firearm, establishing a database to prevent those with mental illness for being able to purchase a firearm, and closing the infamous gun-show loophole.
In the shock that followed the Aurora shooting – and later Sandy Hook – it seemed that these tragedies would compel our national leaders into meaningful changes aimed at reducing such horrific occurrences of gun violence. However, instead of any of these common-sense measures (which, in fact, did not seek to curtail the rights of present or future gun-owners) actually garnering enough momentum to be passed into law, our nation came out of the tragedy with more hyper-partisan debate and deeper ideological divides. Now, more than a year after Aurora, many of our nation’s leaders have signaled by inaction that a status-quo mentality of “mass shootings happen” is OK.
Instead of taking steps to prevent another Aurora, over the past year we've witnessed Congress be intimidated and bullied into inaction by the gun lobby. Similarly, we've witnessed the gun lobby launch a massive PR campaign aimed at the nation’s general public, which amounted to little more than fear-mongering — and perpetuating a myth that somehow the Constitution was in danger. And we've witnessed the Obama administration back down on the issue due to lack of political capital more than once, despite promises to take action in the area.
In short, since the Aurora shooting we've witnessed complete disregard and absolute disrespect for victims not only in Colorado, but in all gun violence in general. While there is no doubt that violence will occur regardless of what measures are in place to prevent a deranged person is able to purchase a gun, or whether a weapon’s magazine is equipped with high-capacity magazines; there is also little doubt that tragedies on the scale of the Aurora shooting could be prevented by ensuring that dangerous individuals cannot legally purchase lethal weapons.
Sadly, the debate that raged following the Aurora shooting will one day rage again following another mass shooting. It will likely fade out again with no substantive action taking place to prevent it from happening again. And, tragically, another one year anniversary will come and go with little attention.