One Slipped Through the Cracks

By: Daniel Nardini

 Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary My heart goes out to all the families and loved ones who lost someone at that movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. My heart also goes out to all those who were wounded in the attack by a lone gunman. I have only two comments to make. First, I have to ask myself why Hollywood keeps making ever more violent movies where the extreme action of beating, shooting and killing people gets ever more horrific every year? I am beginning to fear that art is imitating life and life is beginning to imitate art. The lone gunman, named James Holmes, seems to have been following the whole Batman movie series and has described himself as the “Joker.” Whatever the TV Batman series was, it never was anything like the movie series, and certainly never had the violence, gore and sadism of the movies that have been coming out over the years. In my view, Hollywood should be ashamed of itself for producing such vicious, violent movies on this scale.

My other comment is why the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and even the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were not tracking the online sales of so much ammunition and especially bomb making material to this one deranged man? Think about it. Six thousand rounds of ammunition. Enough bomb making material to blow up an apartment complex (and maybe more). And how many assault rifles and handguns bought with no questions asked by one young man? Even though he bought the guns in local shops, I have to wonder why no one really questioned all of the ammunition he bought? It does not matter whether Holmes bought all of this online at his home or at his university, it just begs for the question why the state and especially federal authorities were not tracking this amount of weaponry and elements to make such bomb weaponry. After the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the federal authorities have made it their business (and rightly so) to track materials, such as nitrates, that could be used to make bombs. And after the Al Qaeda attacks in 2001, the federal authorities made it their business to watch transactions of money, weapons and suspects known or suspected as Al Qaeda personnel moving from one country to the next.

Yet for all that technology, for all of the special computer gathering intelligence personnel hired, and for all of any and all transactions followed looking for potential terrorists—whether they be in Yemen or certainly in the United States—why has this country’s law enforcement agencies failed to catch online transactions of weapons or things to make bombs in large quantities going to any one individual? Didn’t that raise any suspicions in any part of law enforcement? If someone is stockpiling six thousand rounds of ammunition, bomb making material, and Lord knows how many firearms, shouldn’t that have raised some alarm bells? Some would say that “well, what about all those gun collectors who buy guns all the time?” This is a bogus argument. To my knowledge, serious gun collectors do not also buy gas canisters and bomb making material. In my mind there is something else going on here. This in my mind is not an argument for gun control or the rights of gun owners. This is a question of how a criminal investigation should have been conducted. We know that Holmes had no criminal record before this, and he seemed extremely squeaky clean. There are, of course, deranged people who have no criminal record. But the sheer amount of weaponry and bomb making materials over the months should have raised a whole series of alarm bells. Had the authorities—whoever they are—done a little investigation work they might have stopped a lone killer in his tracks. Had the university done some investigating of its own sooner it might have found something very disturbing going on. But none of this happened, and we all know the result. Sometimes, the greatest danger is not the stereotyped villains we all see in the theaters.

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