Wednesday, July 25, 2012

EDITORIAL >> We’ll always remember

Several airmen assigned to Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., attended last Thursday night’s showing of the latest Batman movie at the local multiplex where 12 people died and 58 people were wounded.

One of the dead is Sgt. Jesse Childress of California. He shielded another service member who had gone to see “The Dark Knight Rises” with Childress and saved her life. At least one other service member died protecting his girlfriend from James Holmes’ bullets.

Many others acted just as heroically when the orange-haired madman started firing into the audience half an hour into the movie.

Most of the victims were young, many of them, as we said, serving in the military, while others were starting their careers, filled with optimism and looking for a little escapism at a midnight movie.

The youngest victim was 6. A baby miraculously survived the mayhem.

There’s so much decency in this world that we can’t let a mass murderer like Holmes crowd out their names or their memories.

The killer, wearing a gas mask and body armor, stood up and started firing indiscriminately. Only when one of his semi-automatic rifles jammed did the massacre finally end and the gunman surrendered.

Holmes, who looked dazed at his first court appearance Monday, had bought his assault rifle, two handguns, a shotgun and about 6,000 rounds of ammunition, along with a gas mask and body armor, which he wore as he carried out his attack. He had amassed much of his arsenal on the Internet, where any madman is welcome as long as he has a valid credit card.

The killer had money thanks to a $24,000 federal grant, which was supposed to help him pay his way through medical school. Although he had dropped out, he kept receiving a monthly stipend, which he spent on gathering his arsenal.

The massacre kept some moviegoers away from the Batman movie this weekend, but not many, to the relief of Warner Brothers, which made the film.

The movie grossed $162 million over the weekend at 4,400 theaters in North America, down from a projected $190 million. At $10 a ticket, that means about 16 million people went to see the film and fewer than 3 million stayed home. Maybe they skipped the movie out of respect for those who died, or maybe they feared a copycat shooting at one of the multiplexes showing the blockbuster movie. It’s safer to rent a Netflix movie.

You can be sure there will be more copycats in the near future, perhaps at another blockbuster movie or at another high school or college campus. The killers will be fully armed because even if gun sales are restricted in stores and on the Internet, hundreds of millions of weapons will remain in circulation.

There is some good news: Violent crime has decreased in the U.S. over the last 50 years except in Chicago, but none of us feels any safer. We know the next James Holmes is feeling like a superhero and arming himself in his lonely apartment just about now.