America woke up to yet another mass shooting on July 20, 2012, when James Holmes opened fire on a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Returns in Aurora, Colo., on July 20, killing 12 and wounding 58. TIME’s cover story focused on the prevalence of mass shootings in America while looking at the nation’s history of gun control — or lack thereof:
In the end, criminal laws have a dual function. They seek to prevent crime, but they also send a message: This is where we draw the line. We do not permit this in our society. We think it is excessive. In this case, there is absolutely no rational or sporting reason for an individual to have a semiautomatic weapon or a gun clip that can fire 50 to 100 rounds at a time.