It's time to make youth unemployment the focus of our national attention (36211)

The Friday night movie theater experience in Colorado that ended in utter horror is now part of the lengthy history of senseless violence that seizes the attention of the country with all too much frequency.

Despite the shock and terror of the event, the shooting seems to be doing little to spark national outrage over the continued, ready accessibility of guns and ammunition. It has somehow–mysteriously–sparked an increase in gun sales in various parts of the country, notably in Colorado. That only heightens the sense of tragedy.

The truth is that the force that fueled the trail of carnage in the Denver suburb of Aurora, allegedly at the hands of James Holmes, is the same force that has long provided bloodshed, pain and anguish in urban communities for decades. The access Americans have to assault weapons is a grisly terror that would certainly have outraged and horrified the founders of the United States.

We live in a country where someone like Holmes can readily purchase guns at local shops and 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet as easily as a college student can purchase books on Amazon. This is clearly not what was intended by the authors of the Second Amendment.

We have become desensitized to the heartbreak of the inner-city grandmother getting struck down by a stray bullet and the junior high school student caught in the crossfire of gang violence. Sadly, we are likely to be similarly desensitized to the dreadfulness of the deaths of 12 people and wounding of another 58 in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

Such stories have begun to feel too common, too ordinary. Yet, the Aurora shooting should remind all Americans of the need to do something dramatic that will cut the supply of deadly weapons–guns that owners can use to inflict pain and misery indiscriminately.

Doing something dramatic is extraordinarily challenging, if not outright discouraging because of the power and resolve of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA has amassed such influence, such unfathomable financial muscle, that it has rendered even the president of the United States not the slightest bit inclined to take on the issue of gun control.

Of course, the NRA feels compelled to dig its heels in and do anything–everything–in its power to ensure that no gun control law is ever passed, that no one is denied the ability to obtain a gun that is more an instrument of mass destruction than anything George W. Bush envisioned in Iraq.

As the population becomes more urban, the number of rural Americans who have purchased guns for hunting over the past 200 years continues to diminish into an ever-smaller faction of the U.S. population. Yet, the NRA soldiers on, resisting anything that would curb the sale or use of weapons, even in urban areas where hunting is unheard of. The NRA has converted the intention of the Second Amendment into what journalist Bill Moyers rightly describes as “a cruel hoax.”

Meanwhile, the American public continues to saunter on, with growing tone-deafness to the atrocious blemish on this country’s way of life. Recent polls reveal that fewer Americans are impassioned about the need for stricter gun control than in 1990. It is a shameful situation. It makes little sense that the NRA, our politicians and the public would be resistant to taking on at least a few reasonable measures, from tightening background checks to cracking down on the importation of machine guns, military-style rifles and other especially dangerous weapons.

If nothing else, this is a time for a renewed national discussion about gun violence and gun control before more people–young and old–are gunned down in movie theaters, playgrounds, classrooms or their own homes.