We’ve become accustomed to madness

This was fun news in the little town where I live.

On Tuesday, police arrested a man at the movie theater who was wearing body armor and carrying a loaded Beretta 9mm pistol along with an extra magazine of ammunition containing 17 rounds.

He wasn’t arrested for that. Apparently scaring the crap out of theater employees and anyone else who was aware of the armor and the gun isn’t a crime, thanks to ridiculously lax gun laws.

But he was arrested for having a fake CIA identification card and claiming to police that he was a federal agent. And later, when police searched his car, they found an additional 111 rounds of 9mm ammunition. (You know, because we ALL need that amount of ammo handy, just in case the next zombie apocalypse breaks out.)

Nice, huh?

A Facebook poster neatly summed up the reaction a lot of people probably had: “So much for going to the movie theaters around here.”

What she meant, of course, was that a fragile illusion had been shattered. No more could she – and probably others – pretend that the well-armed lunacy that murdered 12 and wounded 70 as they watched “The Dark Knight Rises” in a darkened theater in Aurora, Colo., only happens elsewhere.

It can happen here. To them and theirs. In fact, the weaponry to make just such a tragedy happen walks in the same theater doors that they do, even on a nothing Tuesday in a nowhere suburb.

What strange times we live in.

This incident makes me marvel at our meekness as a society. Because we’re too afraid – or too disinterested – to confront the gun lobby and demand reasonable restrictions on guns and ammo, we instead choose to live with constant low-grade fear.

And don’t pretend you don’t.

Be honest: How many times have you sat there in the dark at the movies and glanced at the exit doors near the screen, waiting for a shadowy figure to slip in? How many times have you thought, “If it happens, I’ll drop to the floor and play dead” or “I’ll charge him, I’m not going to be a victim”?

Most people, I suspect, think those kinds of thoughts. It’s become a national reflex. When we go to shopping mall we think “What if?” When we go to stadiums, we think, “Man, if someone really wanted to kill a lot of people with a bomb …”

Worst of all, we send our kids off to school and to college and we think, “Lord, let it not happen to them, their school, their classmates.”

In short, we’ve become accustomed to madness. And it’s madness that we don’t do something about it.

We’ve given away our collective peace of mind to the gun nuts, the gun lobby and the gun industry, and it’s about time we took it back.

This isn’t a Second Amendment issue. It’s an issue about what kind of society we want.

The absolutists want complete gun freedom.

I want a little freedom from guns.

EDITOR’S NOTE – Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Write to Andrew Heller at andrewhellercolumn@gmail.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.