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The Colorado Shooting: A future political issue?

This past Friday morning, thousands of Americans across the world woke up to the horrific news that twelve people—many of them children—had been murdered in a mass-shooting at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colo.
The Century 16 Theatre in the Denver suburb had three separate auditoriums full to the brim for the midnight premiere of the final installment of the Batman trilogy, “The Dark Night Rises.” According to reports, 24 year-old James Holmes entered the facility armed with a AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and a .40-caliber handgun.
Donning a gas mask and bulletproof vest, he entered a theatre through the emergency exit, detonated a gas bomb, and open fired into the stunned crowed as many attempted to flee. In addition to the 12 dead, over 58 people were injured.
The “Movie Theatre Massacre”—as some media outlets are calling it—is the deadliest U.S. shooting since U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009, killing 13 and wounding 29.
Unsurprisingly the nation reels from this tragedy, it took no time at all for the age-old gun control debate to come roaring to the forefront of the public conscious. Should there be tighter controls on guns? Would any further control infringe on our second amendment rights to bear arms? What if someone in the audience had a concealed-carry permit…would the situation have turned out differently?
These are just a few examples of the thousands of questions people are asking not only in the United States, but abroad as well. The tragedy made front-page news on the BBC, Brazil’s prominent Globo media conglomerate, and countless other media outlets across the world.
But even with international attention and an election year, once you take into account a split Congress made up of a Republican-controlled house and Democrat-dominated Senate, little is expected to change in terms of national policy in the immediate future.
Additionally, both President Barack Obama and his opponent Mitt Romney have taken big steps to avoid “politicalization” of the tragedy. While the President flew to Colorado to meet with the victims, Romney told a crowd on his campaign trail in New Hampshire that he spoke “not as a presidential candidate, but as a father, grandfather, husband and an American” in offering his condolences.
Will the shooting become the key political issue this fall? If their current actions are to be any indication, it doesn’t look likely—but only time will tell.
All politics aside, I believe a quote from President Barack Obama sums up the national sentiment better than I ever could. Cutting short a planned rally and fundraiser in Florida Friday morning and asking the crowd for a moment of silence, he said: “There are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.”
No matter your stance on gun control, twelve innocent people lost their lives last Friday morning… and they are never coming back.

Lexi Thoman is senior international studies and Spanish double-major from St. Louis, Mo.