Slaughter in a quiet suburb

Yesterday, while putting together awards, a too-long deferred project, I happened to click onto WBZ radio, Boston‘s CBS affiliate. The events in Newtown were just being broadcast. They didn’t know exactly how many children and adults had died. The massacre had just ended — to the degree that such tragedies really ever end. I’m sure that for all the families who lost loved ones, it will never end. There’s no “over” for the slaughter of innocents.

This is the kind of horror story that leaves you with questions that can’t be answered. Even if you know everything there is to know, you still couldn’t make sense of it because it doesn’t make sense and can’t make sense. There is nothing sane, sensible, reasonable or explicable about it. What could possibly make someone — anyone — think murdering children is an acceptable or sane response to anything? No matter what dark secrets or strange thoughts are tangled in the head of the kid who took all those lives … nothing makes it more understandable because our minds reject any answer. There is no reason good enough. Nothing makes it comprehensible nor should it.

I can and will say that had the shooter not had guns, this would NOT have happened.

I do not care how treasured our “rights to bear arms” is to Americans. This is exactly what is wrong with having guns, so many guns, in so many hands. However true it is that guns don’t shoot themselves, the fact is that if they were less accessible to everyone and there were more controls on them to make sure that those who own them understand the responsibility that comes with owning deadly weapons — like the need to keep them out of irresponsible hands — many deaths would not occur. If the same young man had to take whatever weird revenge he sought with a bat or even a knife, he would have been stopped long before the body count had grown so godawful huge.

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Morons at play

Guns don’t kill people all by themselves, but in the hands of people, guns do a lot more damage than the same person could do without guns. These were legal, registered guns.

Why a kindergarten teacher had an arsenal at home where she also had one (more?) mentally ill children is another one of those questions that can’t be answered. Personally I think if all guns disappeared tomorrow and we were reduced to throwing rocks at each other, it would be a better world. Since that’s not about to happen, at the very least, regulating guns so that those who own them are required to keep track of them (how many guns just “disappear” only to reappear as the weapon at a crime scene?), some degree of mental stability has to be established before being allowed to own them, anyone who owns guns has appropriate means to secure them and knows how to properly maintain them … these are minimal sensible requirements. Soldiers aren’t just handed weapons to use indiscriminately. They are taught how to use them, maintain them, and woe to any soldier who just happens to “lose” his weapon.

Yet in the private sector, most states have no requirements other than your ability to fill out a form and wait a few days. Most illegal guns didn’t start out that way, either. They were legal when they were bought … but they roamed to other pastures. If there are simply fewer guns and those who have them are required to account for their whereabouts on a regular basis, secure them when not in use … in short, to be at least as responsible with their guns as they are with their cars for which you are required to take a test, have a licence and registration, and maintain insurance … there would be fewer horrors like that which took place in a quiet Connecticut suburb.

How can we allow mass murder by deranged gunmen and then turn around and say we don’t need gun control? I actually saw posts on Facebook blaming it on not having enough guns. So, now we should arm children so they can shoot each other in schoolyard disputes? That’s your answer? I saw other posts pointing out that we’ve banned school prayer. And you figure that a prayer in the morning would have prevented this tragedy? Really? Has prayer prevented war? Genocide? Plague? Not that I’ve noticed.

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God gave us brains to use. God gave us a conscience to guide us.

In all ten of God’s commandments … nor in anything that Jesus said … is there anything indicating that good people should own weapons. Quite the opposite, actually. Our constitution says that our citizenry is allowed to maintain militia and guns to protect the population, not that ever Tom, Dick, and Jane can have a personal arsenal to use as he or she feels inclined, with no restrictions, no oversight, not even an insurance policy.

It’s outrageous and it’s wrong. If we don’t start to use brains instead of that knee jerk reaction that “Oh my God, the government won’t let me buy an assault weapon! That’s outrageous!” there will inevitably be more of these mornings where families are burying their dead and wondering how it happened. If you want to know how stupid people really are, check out this disgusting website. If you suspected we let insane idiots own arsenals, this website will confirm your worst fears.

It happened because a mentally ill kid was able to get his hands on guns and instead of acting out in a non-lethal way, he instead murdered his family and all those other people too. That’s what happened. Why did it happen? Because we didn’t stop him, that’s why.

9 thoughts on “Slaughter in a quiet suburb

  1. Hi, I tripped over blog whilst googling “very inspiring blog award”. Congratulations!

    You have very eloquently raised all the thoughts that must cross through everyone who isn’t a card holding member of the NRA or the GOA. As an Aussie, it just astounds me the hyperbole being espoused that it was Gun Free Zones that contributed to the body count. Our whole country is a gun free zone. It seems to work mostly.

    Great post and take care, Paul.

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    • Every country in the civilized world seems to manage just find without personal arsenals … except here. I don’t know what it is. Maybe the legeacy of Wyatt Earp or somethinbg, but it’s insane. When we were visiting out in California, we were warned to never insult another motorist lest they take a gun and kill us. I said “What???” I’ve lived in NY. I’ve lived in Jerusalem. I live in Boston. I’ve never had to worry about being gunned down because someone doesn’t like the way I drive. It’s troubling and baffling. And I do not believe that the majority of Americans, including NRA members, actually are part of this lunatic faction … buy for some reason, they seem to have an inordinate amount of power. That’s deeping troubling.

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      • I know statistics can be twisted, and in particular in this sphere. I was reading some pro gun slant on gun violence in America who said that gun deaths per gun (as opposed to per capita) in America is in fact lower than say UK Or Australia etc. is I guess that means you have less violent guns? But then they say guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But then the rate of homicide in general in the US per capita far exceeds other industrialised countries. So like Michael Moore says, it’s not so much a case of people kill people but Americans kill people. There seems to a cultural inclination towards massive violence to solve a dispute. Maybe shock and awe on a small scale?

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        • A certain kind of “frontier justice” and mayhem is part of American culture, but civilized Europe has been a charnel house for thousands of years. The U.S. has yet to produce a Hitler, a Crusades, or an Inquisition. European countries have done well with mass slaughter and genocide. The U.S. has too many guns with too little oversight. But the rest of the world does okay in its own way. If, right now, the U.S. is more murderous, I’m sure some Balkan country will decide to slaughter half their population one day soon. They always do.

          Europe seems to have fewer individual mass murderers, but lots more civil wars, genocide, and organized military and semi-military slaughter. The rest of the world doesn’t get off the hook because you kiill differently. Americans have no monopoly on killing, not by a long shot. Humans kill each other. We always have.

          I have no illusions that we are going to change human nature. Thousands of years of civilization has not eliminated our tendency towards homocide, so I don’t think I will either. We can treat the mentally ill, try to limit the availability of weapons. There isn’t going to be a simple, single, quick answer … or one that satisfies everyone, but doing nothing is unacceptable. We have free will, a conscience and presumably the intelligence to use it.

          It’s time to stop making excuses and make a good faith effort to lessen the damage we do. We claim to be civilized. We should try to act like it.

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          • “If, right now, the U.S. is more murderous, I’m sure some Balkan country will decide to slaughter half their population one day soon. They always do.”

            I apologise if I’ve offended you, but it makes no sense to compare murders committed by individuals to acts of brutality performed by those with power and weaponry.

            Each of the 15000 odd murders in the US each year (that’s 5 per 100,000 people) are the result of 15,000 separate thought processes. That’s what is disturbing. Even if you want to compare, somewhat flippantly, the “civility” of Amercian society with the Balkan states, you find that Serbia has a murder rate of 1.2 murders per 100,000 people, Macedonia 1.9 and Bosnia/Herzegovina 1.5. On the basis of those figures, I would suggest that in general, the people of those countries do not resort to killing each other on an as routine basis as their American counterparts.

            These figures were taken from UNODC http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/statistics/crime/Homicide_statistics2012.xls.

            With respect, I would suggest it is perhaps disingenuous to suggest that America has not produced a Crusade (war on terror?) or an Inquisition (Gauntanamo bay?) or a Genocide (American Indian War?). But these are a different kettle of fish to the individual thought processes that comprise the high murder rate within a society.

            It does point to a societal issue, and you are right to that it is time to stop making excuses and learn to act civilised.

            Kind Regards,
            Paul

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            • I don’t want this to turn into America bashing. Murder is murder. Style is immaterial. I believe we need both gun control and better ways of dealing with the mentally ill. But I don’t think the rest of the world gets off the hook because a nation massacres millions using militia rather than doing it individually. Murder is murder, whether by state or by individual. All dead are equally dead. It’s not that you’ve offended me, but I have grown weary of the assumed superiority of other countries, as if their own murderous pasts are irrelevant now. It’s easy to point fingers, harder to look in the mirror. Cain murdered Abel, but I’m sure before the Old Testament was written, cave persons were spearing other cave persons to get their mammoth meat. We are a lethal species. America is 200 and a bit years old. Murder has been around for a while longer than that.

              If we had fewer guns we’d have many fewer murders. The US needs better and more gun control. Then we can have the mayhem with less lethal results. That is about as good as I can hope for.

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  2. Tragic, sad and very frustrating story. I rarely watch local news now in retirement after 40 plus years as a TV News Reporter. Violence was everyday fodder in my world. It was especially difficult to come home after covering stories like this one. There are no simple answers even though the WHY question echoes across all the channels, radio stations and other media. Not surprisingly, the foaming heads have been unleashed on the social media networks. I DID watch — at length — yesterday’s network and local news coverage. After all these years, I am still stunned and I grieve for the families of all who lost loved ones. And, please, don’t speak to me about closure with so many very young and innocent lives taken.

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    • There’s no closure on this. The only answer that could possibly be meaningful is making sure that every loony doesn’t have access to weapons. How many guns does any private citizen need?

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