The scene is familiar, painfully so. A young man--it's always a man, never a woman--takes a firearm and unleashes a fusillade of anger, creating mayhem and leaving politicians scurrying. The shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in a Tucson parking lot in 2011 shocked Congress and the nation, the first time an American woman politician had been struck by a would-be assassin's bullet.
After the Shooting: Words, Not Legislation
And now we have Aurora--double-digit death on what was anticipated to be one of the biggest movie openings of the year for "The Dark Knight Rises." Midnight shows, like the one in Aurora, were teeming with fans who had come to see the last of director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. It comes some 13 years after the nearby Columbine shootings where two students picked off their classmates with rifles, killing 13.
For all the national angst, it's a good bet that Congress won't do anything after Aurora. The Republicans who control the House have no interest in gun control and frankly the Democrats don't have a lot of appetite for it either. The shadow of the 1994 elections when Democrats lost both chambers in part over gun control is well remembered by pols and consultants 18 years later.
What will happen is a chance for political figures, especially the president, to find their best healing words. Presidents generally excel at this: Bush at the National Cathedral after 9/11, Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and Obama after the Giffords shooting. The moment and the platform, sad though it is, delivers an opportunity for a politician to look bigger than the usual cacophony of TV ads and YouTube jabs. So look for the president to make the most of the moment. There will undoubtedly be a large service in Colorado in the coming days. The president will go. He will mourn. We will, too. But there won't be legislation.