Our hearts are made heavy again, as we acknowledge July 20th as the one year anniversary of the Aurora shooting. Today, we pay tribute to the 12 individuals who lost their lives, as well as the 58 people who suffered injuries from the attack.

We wait to see what becomes of the accused shooter, James Holmes, who has pleaded ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ and awaits trial, scheduled to begin February, 2014.

We remember that America was home to more than one mass-shooting in the past twelve months, and our thoughts and prayers also lie with the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims and their families. We watch as the survivors of both shootings gather in Aurora and pay honor to the victims whose lives were taken.

Now is the time to reflect on these tragedies, consider how we as a nation handled the aftermath and ask what, if anything, has been done to create a safer, more peaceful America going forward.

Both the Aurora shooting and the Sandy Hook massacre prompted intense discussion and debate about gun rights in this country and the extent to which Second Amendment Rights should be regulated.

Debate is good. Manipulation and reactionary decisions are bad.

The president, vice president, and prominent figures belonging to the political left took these two tragedies and made the sweeping generalization that Americans could no longer be trusted with the responsibility of owning firearms—at least not without more regulation.

On January 15th, President Obama laid out his gun policy recommendations, including measures regarding assault-rifle bans and universal background checks. Since January, ten gun-related measures have been debated in Reid’s Senate, though none of these measures have achieved a 60-vote majority.

Something doesn’t add up. We know that neither Holmes nor Lanza used an assault rifle when they carried out the shootings. We also know that background checks would not have stopped Holmes (who passed two background checks) nor would it have stopped Lanza (who stole legally registered guns from his mother's house) from obtaining the guns used to carry out the shootings.

So why are the POTUS and Reid still pushing for assault-rifle bans and universal background checks? The most plausible, and saddening, answer is that these tragedies have given them a platform to boost their ‘liberal reality,’ in which fewer guns will lead to a safer America-- a constructed reality of which the majority of Americans disagree.

But we know something else about the Aurora shooting and the Sandy Hook massacre; something that, unlike assault rifles or background checks, is relevant to both cases. Both Holmes and Lanza suffered from different strands of mental illness.

Their struggles with mental disorders are by no means something that excuse or forgive their actions, nor do their actions reflect the characters of most people who suffer from mental disorders.

But if the President, his staff and his loyal followers are fully committed to preventing mass-shooting tragedies from occurring in the future, it should follow that they would push just as hard to address issues of mental illness in this country as they are pushing on gun control and regulation. After all, the common denominator in both recent shootings is the mental state of the perpetrator.

Has anything been done to address mental health issues on the federal level since Aurora? The only effort to note is the bipartisan bill that was put forward by Senator Begich (D-AK), Senator Blumenthal (D- CT) and Senator Ayotte (R-NH) on January 24th, 2013. According to Blumenthal’s official site:

The bill will provide grants for mental health first aid training programs for groups of individuals such as teachers, first responders, police officers, school and college administrators, veterans, and nurses. The bill also outlines a particular focus on training in rural areas.

The bill was introduced to a congressional committee on January 24th, 2013 and since then, nothing.

Almost seven months have gone by and the bill has not been sent to the House or the Senate for approval, nor has it been given any real media coverage; especially in comparison to the hype and attention that has surrounded gun-control legislation for the past year.

One year later, we must ask our elected representatives why they have been wasting time on bills aimed at law-abiding citizens and ignoring bills that could have a positive effect on those struggling from disorders. The Oval Office and the Senate have not been promoting justice for the victims of Aurora shooting or the Sandy Hook shooting; they have been promoting a liberal spectacle aimed at advancing their agenda.


Kate Andrews

Kate Andrews is a Townhall intern.