Look. I’m not saying last week’s shooting at the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, wasn’t a tragedy. I’m saying it was completely unnecessary.

I mean, if the last time it happened that some crazy dude picked up a gun and went apeshit on everyone in the immediate vicinity—was it Gabrielle Giffords? Hasn’t there been one or two since then? Who can remember?—it had sparked a genuine debate about gun control in this country, then fine, maybe this soon-to-be former grad student grabbing his teargas and his assault weapon and shooting (among others) a six-year-old in the face would have some purpose. But it didn’t. And this one won’t either. And after the news cycle is over and President Obama goes there and feels their pain and Mitt Romney goes there and feels their pain and the Republican pundits have argued that government wants to disarm the populace and then commence with what I can only assume as an apocalyptic vision of anal rape (I always wondered what came after the government takes all the guns away) and the Democratic pundits have argued that an assault weapons ban would prevent this kind of tragedy from ever happening again—both wrong, by the way—and all the talking points are exhausted, we’ll all go back to thinking about the election and a few shattered lives will be nothing more than a footnote of B-roll to be shown again in the 2012 year in review. “Oh yeah, I remember that,” and so on.

But whatever, right? Maybe what we as the rest of the country whose existence hasn’t been shattered by the alleged actions of the 24-year-old James Holmes need to do is realize how little we actually care. Part of the American narrative is that we place such a high value on life. Really? If that’s the case, how come this shit happens every six months like clockwork? How come we’re still at war? How come we debate job-creation while children go to bed without food?

Fearing death and cherishing life are not the same thing, and the truth is, if we actually gave a shit about mass shootings like this one in Aurora, we’d do the work of changing our culture so that they’d truly be as aberrant as we all like to claim they are when they happen—again—every six months like clockwork. We might have done it, say, in 1999 when the Columbine school shooting took place half an hour away from Aurora.

We don’t care, the rest of us. You, me, we’re all complicit in these cycles of violence, at very least through our inaction and by the fact that when something like this happens we don’t immediately stop what we’re doing and say, “Okay. Nobody moves until we get this shit sorted out.” We don’t do that. We watch the police chiefs on Headline News on the tv in the bagel shop praising the work of the first responders. We maybe stop to think how lucky we were not to be there. There’s no real reflection, no real element of discovery, nothing learned, nothing gained, nothing changed, and what has always remained hopeless about this 200-plus year colonial experiment remains hopeless into perpetuity. These are not new lessons and there is nothing new in our ignoring them.

So like I said: Completely unnecessary.

JJ Koczan

jj@theaquarian.com

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