On July 20, moviegoers who gathered at a theater in Aurora, Colorado for a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises had no idea they were about to face tragedy and death. Gunman James Holmes shot at the audience, killing 12 and injuring 50. In the wake of the chaos, everything from film violence to gun control is being talked about and looked at from different angles throughout the country. And the ongoing story of Holmes is still unfolding.
24 year-old Holmes, a former doctoral student, went on a rampage, clad in body armor and armed with an assault rifle and handguns. He opened fire some 20 minutes into the latest Batman film, and was arrested shortly after in the theater parking lot, where, adding to the havoc, he told police his apartment was booby trapped with bombs, trip wires, and improvised explosive devices.
When FBI officials and bomb squad technicians got to the apartment, their skills were tested by what was reportedly a highly sophisticated setup. Authorities spent an entire day disabling the devices.
More recently, police learned that Holmes purchased the weapons he used at local gun stores during the past two months. He also bought some 6,000 rounds of ammunition via the Internet, said Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates.
That weekend was one of grief and mourning for the families of slain victims. Presidents President Obama comforted them at a prayer vigil on Sunday, telling them that America and much of the world was thinking about them.
The President wasn't the only one who stood by their side. Actor Christian Bale (who portrays Batman in the films) surprised many when he met with the survivors of the shooting on Tuesday, accompanied by his wife. There, he paid his respects at a makeshift memorial near the movie theater.
Bale had previously released a statement, remarking, "Words cannot express the horror that I feel. I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them."
Looking humble and dressed casually, Bale thanked the staff at the Medical Center of Aurora and took photos with employees and shooting survivors, one of whom posted them on her Facebook page. The gesture was greatly appreciated both by victims' loved ones and fans of the film, many of whom had previously campaigned for Bale to go to Aurora on sites like Facebook and Tumblr.
On Monday, Holmes appeared in court, hands cuffed and his hair dyed bright orange. Reportedly looking dazed, he sat unmoving, his attorneys doing all the talking when asked if he understood the severity of the situation, and if he understood his rights.
Holmes is expected to be formally charged next Monday.
Meanwhile, gun control remains one of the third rails of American politics with neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney saying much about it.
The Republican Party as a whole and some Democrats, particularly those in red or red-leaning states, are either beholden to or afraid of the power of the National Rifle Association.
Somehow the NRA is able to bludgeon people into silence when it comes to the proliferation of even assault weapons and semi-automatic machine guns - things never even imagined by founding fathers writing a constitution that guaranteed the right of the people to bear arms against a foreign oppressor-nation.
The politicians won't be able to ignore the voices of reason for long, however.
Among them are the survivors of the2011 shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford in Tucson, Arizona thousands of families, and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of 600 mayors advocating progressive gun control initiative. Many of the mayors speak for the growing numbers of victims and relatives of victims of gang violence on our big city streets.
Together, they are launching a campaign to "Demand a Plan" from our political leaders to make a concentrated effort to reduce gun violence.
"Our lives were changed forever by gun violence," said Patricia Maisch, who helped disarm the Tucson shooter by grabbing his second magazine clip after he had been tackled, and is now working with Demand a Plan. "That's why we have resolved to take action by working together to fix our gun laws. We reminded the NRA leadership that their obstruction has horrible consequences.
"The American people continue to stand with us in an effort to prevent future gun violence tragedies."
Photo: A Batman doll lies in a memorial near the Century 16 theater, where 12 were killed and many more injured during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Alex Brandon/AP