Once again Americans watched in shock and horror and tried to comprehend the reasons behind another senseless shooting.
This one in Aurora, Colo., just outside of Denver, left more than a dozen people dead - a number changing as time goes on - and at least 50 others wounded. The tragedy happened inside a sold-out movie theater that, like many theaters across the country that night, was offering a midnight premier of "The Dark Knight Rises," the just-released movie about Batman.
The suspect in the shooting was identified as 24-year-old James Holmes, a graduate student in neuorsciences at the University of Colorado, although officials at the school say Holmes was in the process of withdrawing from the university.
Details about Holmes' life and personality will emerge in the coming days, but he was obviously mentally disturbed and eerily similar to others who have committed such unspeakable acts in recent years. Neighbors say he lived alone, was reclusive and would not acknowledge even the most casual greeting from others in the building.
Another trait Holmes has in common with other mass killers is having an arsenal of weapons. Upon entering the theater, he set off a gas canister before using a shotgun. When the shotgun was empty, he began firing a rifle he had strapped to his back, firing at least 30 shots, according to witnesses inside the theater. Later upon searching his apartment, police said they found it booby-trapped with "pretty sophisticated" explosive devices.
We are left to wonder how this can happen. What is in this bright young man's psyche that would make him don a costume, enter a filled-to-capacity movie theater and randomly shoot innocent strangers?
Is there a good answer? No, at least none that will matter to the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends of the victims.
However, the question must be asked and studied and among the first places we have to look is the availability of guns. We know there will be push-back from gun supporters, but even the most ardent gun advocates cannot in good conscience defend laws that allowed this man to possess weapons. Gun supporters, more than anyone, should be on the front lines supporting ways to prevent this from happening.
Yet, to blame it only on the availability of guns or gun laws is shortsighted at best.
What is the solution? It seems these types of miscreants are far too regularly spit out of our simmering cauldron of pop culture where no deed is too evil, too vile or too embarrassing as long as it brings fame or notoriety. Kids are influenced by pop singers who use foul language, "real housewives" who have no talent and with personalities that would leave them friendless in the real world, buffoons from New Jersey or California, and video games that make murder and killing virtuous.
We're not the solution. We're are in large part the problem.