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We are the only ones responsible for ourselves

July 22, 2012
By CRAIG HOWELL , Weirton Daily Times

On Friday, the nation was rocked by the actions of one person which led to the death or injury of many others.

By now we have all, no doubt, heard about the mass shootings at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo. during a viewing of the film "The Dark Knight Rises."

That attack resulted in the death of 12 people and another 58 injured.

In the minutes, hours and now days that have followed, there has been an outpouring of support from around the world for the victims and their families. Unfortunately, there also has been a lot of finger pointing.

In times like these, when people should be coming together, there all too often are those out there who feel it is their job, instead, to drive wedges into the national dialogue.

That happened, with debates and politicizing taking off by mid-morning on Friday. It is sad, indeed, that we have become so divided as a nation that we cannot, for even one day, let the families grieve without trying to push ourselves into a situation where we truly have no place.

There are talking heads and office-holders jumping up and down, trying to score points for their respective side, and I think there are some things we should all remember during this national tragedy.

First off, this is definitely not something that should be blamed on the movie.

Too many times I hear about the influence of popular culture in our actions. Any time there is a violent act, there are those who will try to blame things like movies, television, comic books and video games for such behavior.

Just because the victims were watching a Batman movie doesn't mean the shooter was influenced by it.

Secondly, this isn't a time for lobbyists and politicians to run around trying to get new gun legislation passed on any governmental level.

We cannot, and should not, try to blame the gun manufacturers or those who sell them, or even government officials who put the current gun laws in place.

Making changes to those laws or finding ways to provide stiffer penalties or enforcement now will not make this any better. It also will not guarantee something like this will never happen again.

No, there is only one place where blame should be pointed, and that is at the shooter himself.

The shooter made the choice to purchase the weapons used that night. He chose to strike fear into others and take the lives of innocent individuals who were simply there to get away for a little bit and enjoy some time with friends and family.

As of Saturday, law enforcement officials said their investigation showed a great deal of planning behind the attack, although they still didn't know why it was done.

The shooter decided to get his hands on all of the weapons, bust into the movie theater and do what he did.

He also decided to plant the explosives in his apartment, which, to me, shows he had no intention of being alive following this tragedy either.

The fact is, we may never know why it was done, but we know who to blame.

It's not the movie industry, the gun lobby, the politicians, or anyone else. The responsibility lays strictly on the shoulders of that one individual.

We are all responsible for our actions. We alone shoulder the blame and the results of each and every thing we do to ourselves and to others.

We cannot blame others for causing someone pain. We cannot point the finger at a group that had no involvement in the events. We certainly cannot blame the victims.

They did not choose to be targeted. They did not choose to be victimized. They did not choose for that person to pull the trigger.

We are the ones who carry the responsibility of everything we do, and that means we also carry the consequences, whatever they may be.

I cannot say for sure what will happen to the shooter.

I know there are many who will call for stiff penalties based on Colorado law, and ultimately that will be up to law enforcement and the judicial system to decide.

But we must remember we cannot point fingers at those who are not involved.

There is only one person who will bear the consequences of this unfortunate incident. Only one who will carry the blame.

Do not politicize it. Don't run around the television shows spouting off about how we should have done this or that, or we need to do these things as a result.

Hindsight will always be 20-20. And each of us will always be the person responsible for what we do and how our lives play out.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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