In the struggle to explain the inexplicable, fingers of blame once again are being pointed in the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colo.
A lone gunman opened fire on the audience at a midnight movie Friday, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others.
Targets of blame include:
• Gun availability. Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said: "This tragedy is another grim reminder that guns are the enablers of mass killers and that our nation pays an unacceptable price for our failure to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people."
• Violent images in movies, television and video games. Michael Nagler, in a column for PeaceVoice, wrote: "Psychologists have proved over and over again that - guess what - exposure to violent imagery produces disturbances in the mind that must, in course of time, take form in outward behavior."
• Government. John Whitehead, in a commentary for the Rutherford Institute, blamed a range of factors. Among them, he wrote: "Violence has become our government's calling card, starting at the top and trickling down, from President Obama's "kill list' to the more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year on unsuspecting Americans by heavily armed, black-garbed commandos."
Broader targets extend to society, popular culture and the media.
Blaming someone or something helps avoid facing the grim reality that mass killings by deranged loners can and will happen.
"There's no way you can prevent it. There's absolutely no way," said Peter Ahearn, a former FBI agent. "It was random. It happened."
Perhaps the best defense - and by no means a fool-proof one - is to intercept troubled people and address mental health issues.
Self-reliance is a worthy aspiration, but mental disorders and disabilities must not be overlooked or ignored.
We help ourselves when we become more attuned to recognizing and reporting aberrant behavior.
Equally important, we must establish a network of mental health professionals who, when called on, are able to intercede.