- Cullman, Alabama


May 14, 2013

Editorial: Murder, insanity and guns

CULLMAN — James Holmes, the accused movie theater shooter in Colorado, would like for the public to believe he killed a dozen people because he was insane.

Believe what you want, but all indications point to a man desperate to avoid the death penalty.

In a well-prepared attack that killed 12 and left 70 wounded, investigators later found Holmes’ apartment booby-trapped, another effort to bring harm to innocent people. His attorney is now asking the court to consider a plea of guilty by reason of insanity.

The investigation, to date, has not revealed any motive for the attack on movie-goers. There is no evidence of a crime of passion or an incident that set off the suspect’s emotions. The only explanation that exists is that the movie-goers were victims of a carefully planned mass murder.

As the court and the public struggles to come to grips with the motivation for such heinous acts, the realization that some people kill because of meanness cannot be ruled out. Insanity, or some form of mental illness, may have a bearing on unpredictable actions, but that is not an excuse for murdering innocent people.

If the court finds the suspect guilty of murder, only two issues remain to be decided: should the culprit be executed and what can be done to prevent similar acts from occurring.

Efforts to develop better screening methods for gun ownership have become bogged down in political fights that falsely claim the Second Amendment is in danger. Gun ownership, under the Second Amendment, is not the issue. The competence of who owns or has access to guns is the legitimate issue.

Proving the guilt of the Colorado shooting suspect will not be difficult. Arguments about his mental capacity are not important concerning his guilt or innocence. But for the purpose of determining a way to improve background checks for gun purchases, understanding the shooter’s state of mind has merit.

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