Thoughts on the Newtown Elementary School Tragedy
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I haven’t been posting this afternoon because I’ve been preoccupied with other things, but also because of a general frustration with how America responds to gun tragedies. Really the lowest form of our political discourse comes out on these days.
It seems as if somebody is just inventing scenarios to increase the outrage over the lack of a coherent gun policy in America. The shooting of a member of Congress in the head didn’t change the dynamic? No? How about a shooting in a movie theater, instantly relatable for practically every American? OK, no, so how about an elementary school, where the son of a teacher murdered 27, including 18 children.
This is the largest mass shooting in America that I can think of since the Virginia Tech massacre. The presence of children, aged between 5 and 10, among the dead adds a new element to the nature of the tragedy. But it hasn’t, even a little bit, enhanced the quality of the post-shooting debate, which falls into a familiar, depressing pattern. One side says that “today is not the day” to talk about gun laws. And that’s the side that includes the President! Then you have the predictable theory that, if only the entire world was armed, everyone would be safe from everyone. And everyone argues and yells, and 5 days later, tops, everyone moves on without any action taken.
Somehow, the tea leaf-reading of what frontiersmen living 230-plus years ago thought about gun ownership takes precedence over the actual consequences of a current situation where guns are so easily obtained and used. Just to pick at random, here are a couple headlines at the Hartford Courant site just from the past 24 hours: Woman Shot, Man Dead After Standoff In Rocky Hill. Armed Robbery At Hartford Bank, Two In Custody. It’s not that school shootings like this are abnormal. They are depressingly normal. The fact that there were no shootings in one day in New York City recently was seen as a major achievement, which shows you how desensitized we have become to gun violence as a normal occurrence of daily life.
It’s just completely exhausting, and invites little but despair. The political leadership of the country long ago turned over gun policy to a trade group called the NRA which is primarily concerned with profits from the sale of guns and ammunition. And seemingly no crime, no matter how horrific, can change that reality. Not even on the order of completely sensible, completely modest regulation over things like background checks for those who purchase at gun shows, or anything else.
It just saddens me.
…we also have a complete failure in this country to deal with mental health issues. While recognizing that violent crime has actually dropped, the continuing occurrence of these spectacular mass shootings suggests something is wrong with that area of our health care system.