BY MARY ANNA TOWLER
Bit by bit, we’ll learn more about the tragedy in Aurora. But from what we know so far, it seems clear that the 24-year-old believed to have carried out the massacre has a severe mental-illness problem. That subject itself is worth a national discussion: we need to put much more funding and research into mental illness.
But we also need stronger gun-control laws in this country. Mental illness did not kill those 12 moviegoers and injure dozens of others. Guns – several different kinds, apparently – did.
Guns-control opponents are online in force, with the usual arguments. It was good, then, to see the interview with former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, from Friday’s Rachel Maddow show, calling attention to a troubling fact of life.
“Gun violence in America,” said Herbert, “is really part and parcel of the character in the United States.”
I wish one of the results of Friday’s carnage would be a rational, national discussion about that topic. Why are guns so important to so many people? Why, if I may ask naively, do so many people find pleasure in shooting a gun? Why are so many Americans so afraid of their fellow citizens that they feel compelled to carry a gun for protection?