It is a tragedy that has shocked the world. A night of entertainment at the local cinema turned into a mindless massacre. And that seems to be the key point – that the attack was mindless, it lacked a motive, and left a mystery.
James Holmes, 24, wore a mask and some body armour as he burst into the movie theatre showing the Dark Knight Rises, the latest instalment in the Batman series. He then released tear gas and picked off his targets killing 12 and injuring 58.
The most obvious question is, “why did he do it?” Mr Holmes has a strong academic record gaining a scholarship to study at the University of California at Riverside, where he gained a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience in 2010. He was studying for a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Colorado in Denver before he committed the atrocity.
Mr Holmes was described as quiet. He had no past convictions except from a speeding ticket in 2011 and he has no links to terrorist groups.
During the 60 days leading up to the attack Mr Holmes legally bought four weapons at local gun shops – an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, two .40-calibre Glock handguns and a 12-gauge Remington shotgun. He also bought 6000 rounds of ammunition.
The availability of this amount of weaponry is worrying and it is a problem that has plagued the United States for many years. Indeed, the right to carry a gun is part of the US Constitution.
This incident is no doubt going to raise familiar debates. Firstly, that perhaps the movie is to blame. Masks, violence and high octane
action are all a part of the Batman series. Secondly, and perhaps the more fierce issue, is that over US gun law. It is a cyclical chain of events – massacre occurs, US gun policy called into question, and nothing is done.
The Washington Post declares that US gun laws make “no sense” and the Times of India says that the Colorado shooting is unlikely to force a change in policy. Some analysts have said that even if the laws were tightened, the shooting still would have happened.
What is clear is that gun crime in the US is a massive problem and many politicians are reluctant to do anything about it due to the political impact it could have, especially at a time when the elections are fast approaching.
It was not only a tragedy for Colorado, but it was a dark night for the whole world. Questions will be asked in the coming weeks and months over the mindset of Mr Holmes and his motives for the attack, and people will be eagerly awaiting the answers.