A Letter to the Victims of the Aurora Theater Shooting

To the Victims of the Aurora Theater Shooting:

“If I had my way they’d take metal altogether out of this world. Every blade, every gun,” says Natalie Portman’s character in the classic film “Cold Mountain.”  Maybe I’m just a sucker for movies, but when I watch that one–and that scene in particular–an “Amen!” or “Preach it!” escapes my lips before I know it.  I can only imagine that you feel the same way.

I’m writing this letter to you today because I want you to know that I do not believe a letter like this is what is needed at the moment.  But, at the moment, I have to write a letter for a class and I wanted to write to you.  I’ve been taking undergraduate courses in writing recently, and a large part of writing is rhetoric.  Rhetoric is the term used to describe the tools writers use to affect their audience.  I’m told a writer uses rhetoric—these tools–to persuade people to agree with him.  Sometimes the use of rhetoric isn’t deliberate, sometimes it is very deliberate.  Like I said, though, I don’t believe words, especially not the words on this page, can help me persuade you to believe anything at the moment.  “So why the letter?” you may ask.

As you know, Colorado, in large part because of the tragic events of July 20, 2012, is currently in the spotlight of a larger movement across the nation.  I’m talking, of course, about the state legislature’s recent revisit to its gun policy.  There’s no denying that without guns July 20th—more importantly, your lives–would never have been tainted by this unbearable act.  Just the same, I can’t help but wonder if changes are being made too quickly.

Here’s what I’m proposing:  For the last year I’ve been hosting a dinner series of sorts at my home.  I’d like to invite you over to the one scheduled for July 20, 2014.  If you can believe it, July 20th is my birthday.  As July 20, 2012 approached I’d been excitedly anticipating the movie for a year, knowing it was coming out on my birthday.  My brother can confirm that I bawled on the phone that morning as I heard the news.  I had called him to discuss whether we should still see the movie that night.  He was on I-70, driving to Denver from Kansas City so we could see the movie together as a birthday present.  This July 20–July 20, 2014–I’m inviting you to a dinner at my home.  The dinner will be a place where we will share ourselves.  You don’t know me yet, but rest assured that disrespect has no place at my home.  I want to know what you think, and I would like to share some thoughts with you as well.

So, what do you say?  I have a little saying that I stole from the Oracle of another blockbuster trilogy: “The only way to get there is together.”  I believe my time in the Air Force allows me to own this phrase as it’s essentially the positive way of saying, “You don’t crash in compartments.”  I feel like you and I are separated by more than space, and I don’t think that’s necessary or valuable.  Please contact me if you agree and would like to join me for an event that your presence will enhance substantively.

Yours sincerely,

//signed//

Pete

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