Don’t listen to me make a case for Colorado lawmakers to finally pass serious and effective gun control and fund mental health needs, listen to one of the nation’s most notorious mass murderers.
“I don’t think people are going to remember me for any other reason,” Aurora theater shooter James Holmes told a psychiatrist hired to determine if Holmes was insane. “I think they’ll remember me as a bad guy.”
Holmes was right about that. He was right about a lot of things.
The unnerving back and forth between Holmes and the psychiatrist are part of 24 hours of recorded interviews in 2014, before his infamous trial and conviction. The video was released last week in a new high-definition format.
Difficult to stomach, the tapes should be required viewing, especially for state and federal lawmakers.
The videos depict a heavily drugged Holmes, stoically recalling every revolting detail of how he planned and then carried out one of the most appalling mass murders in the country.
He deliberately retells donning a gas mask, sneaking into the theater and noticing something unexpected as he opens fire.
“They got down behind the seats pretty fast,” Holmes said. He had fantasized that dozens of theater goers would be gunned down while seated and watching the movie.
“The plan was to contain them so they wouldn’t start running,” he leadenly recalled. In each interview segment, he drinks thirstily from a cup he holds with both hands, acting out the side effects from his psych meds.
Clearly and keenly mentally ill, Holmes had been throwing off red flags for years to numerous people. He’d long wanted to kill people, court testimony and these videos make clear.
He quickly and easily assembled a virtual armory in 2012, not long before the massacre. No one ever tried to stop him.
Just last week, Sebring, Florida killer Zephen Xaver executed five women in a bank he forced to lie face down.
Xaver’s girlfriends and acquaintances said he, too had long talked about killing people — for years.
He, too, quickly and easily bought guns and turned yet another normal day at work and an brief errand into a hideous death sentence.
This week, experts from the FBI and other investigators admitted that they have given up trying to figure out what motivated 2017 Las Vegas concert shooter Stephen Paddock to massacre dozens and injure hundreds.
He, too, gave off endless warnings that something was very wrong, chief among them, amassing weaponry that no honest or sane person outside of the military would want or should have.
Here in Colorado and across the nation, elected leaders all agree that a dearth of resources for mental health treatment works against preventing people like Holmes and others to carry out their lethal fantasies. But just like gun control, we do relatively little to meet the need.
The stories of armed American terrorists are so frequent and prolific that even people like me paid to follow all of this can’t possibly keep track of it.
We’ve become so accustomed to ghastly gun attacks in schools, clubs, stores, offices and churches that when five women are gruesomely executed, face down in a bank, it can’t hold our attention.
There are many of us here in Aurora who know full well it most certainly can happen right here, to you or someone you love. Much of the nation, however, continues to live in a delusional denial that Sebring, Las Vegas and Sandyhook are places as remote as Middle East countries that are hard to pronounce and impossible to place.
Get wise, folks. The next James Holmes or Zephen Xaver is in your community.
If you’re thinking that you couldn’t help but smell the odd malevolence these insane shooters must exude, watch Holmes for yourself. These aren’t cliche movie bad guys, they’re your friends, family and neighbors.
While only a very few carry out their “missions,” endless thousands entertain the idea.
All they need is guns, and we make that the easy part.
Thanks to critically dangerous efforts by the NRA and its champions, there will be an endless number of people like Holmes, retelling a story everyone now knows all too well.
Watch the tapes. See and hear for yourself how common Holmes’ issues are, and how easy it was for him to murder 12 people you might have known.
Then decide whether you think what the NRA sells as gun freedom is anything but that.
While people like Holmes haven’t changed in Colorado or anywhere, the government has. For the first time in years, we have lawmakers and a governor who understand how reasonable and effective gun control laws can stop people like Holmes from acting out their sickness. Congress is not currently in the business of handling any national issues of consequence, so it’s up to us to fend for ourselves.Unlike Xaver, Holmes said he had long planned to shoot his victims from afar. He didn’t want to shoot his cowering victims as they crouched behind theater seats.
“It makes it too personal,” Holmes said, licking his dry lips.
It’s all become too personal, and Colorado needs to take this powerful opportunity to finally do something to stop it.
Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]