James Holmes doesn’t look like he’s all there.
There’s the Crayola orange hair. The dazed look. The seeming inability to adapt his brilliance in the classroom to the world outside of it; a world of dating, friends and one with no clear rules.
Yet it’ll be awhile before anyone will really know whether it was craziness or calculated evil that led Holmes, a 24-year-old neuroscience PhD candidate, to spend months plotting the worst mass shooting in U.S. history at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater last week; one in which 12 people were killed and 58 were wounded.
It’ll be awhile before anyone will know what possessed Holmes to purchase more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, to buy a Glock, a pistol and an assault rifle, protective gear, a gas mask, gas canisters, grenades and other instruments and apparatus designed to foment death and destruction.
But know this.
Whatever demons that drove Holmes to commit mass murder were fed by opportunity. The opportunity was fed the gun lobby, which sees to it that in Colorado, there is no ban on assault weapons or high capacity clips, no gun registration, no gun licensing and no background checks for gun sales.
On top of that, Holmes’ Internet purchases raised no red flags.
Yet the opportunity for someone like Holmes to build an arsenal is also fed by something more sinister: the gun lobby’s ability to foment paranoia among ordinary Americans under the cover of the Second Amendment.
Because of that, guns have gone far beyond simply being instruments of protection or for hunting or sport. They’ve become fetishized as symbols of American freedom; as the thing that separates real Americans from fake ones.
In Texas, for example, gun licenses can be used as voter identification, but student identification cards cannot. I guess in the Lone Star state, real Americans go to the gun range instead of college.
On top of that, scores of people, upset over the election of President Obama and intent on not seeing the first black president as one of them, continue to purchase firearms in record numbers.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, last year sales of firearms were projected to hit 15 million for the first time ever, and tactical rifles were mostly in demand. Gun shop owners have bragged that Obama’s election has been good for sales.
And many people who are arming up are doing so out of paranoia; they fear that Obama, if re-elected, will limit their right to buy guns.
That’s because in the minds of many of them, the president isn’t a real American, but a socialist-in-waiting.
Fear drives them more than American ideals. So they continue to conflate the unrestricted ability to acquire assault rifles and instruments geared to maiming and killing, to freedom.
So it would only follow that Holmes, and before him Jared Lee Loughner, who shot 18 people in Tuscon, Ariz., last year and killed six, would exploit those lax gun laws, laws undergirded by fear and misguided notions of freedom, to arm up.
Thing is they, not unlike the killers who have been leaving a trail of blood in Chicago lately, and in inner-cities everywhere, used that freedom to simply murder people. Making a stand for the Second Amendment, I’m sure, was the furthest thing from their minds.
Again, we don’t know whether it was meanness or insanity that drove Holmes to shoot up a theater full of people. What we do know, however, is that his ability to amass an arsenal was abetted by an atmosphere in which protecting anyone’s right to acquire one is seen as the American thing to do.
Until that changes, expect to keep reading about more James Holmeses. And to keep burying more people.
Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her on Twitter at @tonyaajw.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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