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July 26, 2012  | by: Natalia Weiner

The latest tragedy that has shattered the hearts of Americans has sparked nation-wide controversy not only over what should be done with “Dark Knight” Colorado shooter, but what this means for our country during this pivotal election year. James Holmes, 24, in what has recently been labeled the Aurora Theater Massacre, is accused of wounding 58 people, and killing 12 during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises.

He was arraigned on July 23 and will be charged with first degree murder in the state of Colorado, which is a death penalty state. Considering the fact that this shooting was unprovoked and neither family nor friends had even seen an inkling of a possibility for destructive behavior, the insanity plea is on the table. Conspiracy theories run amok in television broadcasts and journal articles about why Holmes- seemingly out of no where- would booby trap his apartment, purchase 4 guns with 6,000 rounds of ammunition and walk up and down the aisles of a movie theater on a blood path.

One of the victims, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, was only six year old girl. One blogger suspects that this fits too perfectly into the political agenda concerning gun control, others while others believe that the brutal act was meant to imitate Frank Miller’s 1986 comic, which the Washington Times claims was a vital contributor to the inspiration for the Batman movies.

In my opinion, this is ridiculous. I doubt that the government would have any direct involvement with the shooter, let alone endorse murderous acts just to enforce gun control policy. However, it would not be surprising if Holmes did get his inspiration from the comic, as it is often seen that many violent acts perpetrated by adolescents (those who have not reached their mid to late twenties) result from video game violence, where the viewer cannot distinguish between the game and reality.

Batman Comic - 1986

People had also accused Arlene Holmes, mother of James Holmes, of having knowledge of the shooting when she made the statement to ABC News, “You have the right person.” Their family lawyer cleared this up, explaining that this statement was referring to herself, when asked if she was James Holmes’ mother. However, when reporters asked if the Holmes family supported James, the lawyer responded, “Yes, they do. He’s their son.”

This support, however, treads the fine line between a family’s bond and direct involvement. Many question how a mother could not know that her child was suffering psychological distress and was in need of help.

To be fair it seems that no one had suspected Holmes, a doctoral candidate for a Colorado neuroscience program. The question still remains, does Holmes possess personality traits consistent with that of a mass murderer? If this is so, could the shooting have potentially been prevented? CTV News quotes Jack Levin, co-author of Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder, “Most of these mass killers, with the exception of the school shooters, are in their 30s or 40s or 50s — they’re middle-aged guys who were doing poorly at the very time they think they should be reaching the pinnacle of success.”

Some feel that this kind of behavior reflects the mind of a true criminal, while other feels that this personality change was so drastic that there must be some sort of psychosis attributed to his behavior. Was it a psychotic break from the stress of being a PhD candidate?

It seems that his behavior parallels that of a school shooting more than a mass murder executed by the classic criminal. Perhaps Holmes felt that the world was against him, or his mind became so warped that he had difficult discerning reality from fantasy, as it did seem to appear from what was found in his apartment that he was a Batman fan. Regardless, there is still enough evidence to infer an altered mental state to argue an insanity plea, but favor is not on his side.

What everyone can agree on is that the Aurora Theater Massacre was a tragedy, and James Holmes’ shocking orange hair and vacant expression at his arraignment will be a picture that none will soon forget. We will all wait in front of our television sets to hear the verdict. The fight doesn’t end there, because no matter what the verdict, Obama and Romney will have a large pill to swallow, and Americans will tune in to every station to hear what they have to say.

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