Tucson, and Gabrielle Giffords.
And countless other shooting incidents, nationwide, great and small, that have occurred before and after. It just seems like they are coming with greater frequency now. And I don't know what the answer is.
How many more stories of personal heroism in the face of unholy terror can we stand? Who expects to be engaged in combat in a school room? Or in a movie theater? Our traditional safe zones, as they like to say in these days of Homeland security and Patriot Acts, have become soft targets. The key word here, of course, is target. And that would be us.
The debate over Second Amendment gun control will heat up once again, and maybe as these incidents continue to come at us at seemingly regular intervals, one after another, like en echelon infantry hammer blows in the Civil War, perhaps the demand for some kind of gun control will reach a critical mass that not even the National Rifle Association can logically defy.
But I'm not holding my breath.
In the case of James Holmes, the Aurora shooting suspect, you have to wonder how he legally came into possession not only of automatic assault weapons, but the superior body armor to go with it. Not to mention 6,000 rounds of ammunition. He was better armed and better protected than most municipal police officers. How does a civilian manage to accomplish that, and for what purpose other than to kill?
To me, the wording of the Second Amendment to the Constitution is a little fuzzy on this issue of gun ownership. Word for word, it reads: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Well, all right then. It certainly sounds like constitutionally I can own an AK-47, if I wish. But I'm a flexible Constitution guy. The Bill of Rights were ratified in 1791, before automatic weapons were invented. People were using flintlocks in those days, not Uzis. So does the advance in gun technology make a difference in the framers' intent? And what is the constitutional definition of "arms" anyway? Tazers? Tear gas? Glocks? Rocks? And which "people" are we talking about? Militiamen? Convicted felons? The mentally ill? A Marine sergeant? My wife? Me? Who really does have the right to bear arms?
I don't know what the answer is, and maybe there is no answer. Death is always lurking somewhere. Is a random act of murder any more — or less — compelling than, say, a child who dies of cancer or because of an auto accident? In the end, death is death, isn't it? Isn't it?
I don't know the answer. So the tears will continue to stream when a young woman talks about her dead boyfriend who instinctively shielded her from bullets with his body; of friends separated forever by a 5.56 mm round from an AR-15 spitting death in a movie theater; of another story of senseless human slaughter.