Thoughts on Newtown

It’s been a little over a week since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. I suspect for most people, the enormity of it is still sinking in. Last week I saw a clip of the opening Saturday Night Live used for their show–a children’s choir singing Silent Night, and nearly lost it.

Gun Control

It feels like there might actually be a consensus finally developing that there needs to be some sort of meaningful gun control. There is no reason for a civilian to be carrying around an automatic weapon. You don’t need an assault rifle for hunting. The best analogy I’ve seen is one by David Gergen – people have a right to drive, but the states get to regulate who can drive and can insist on certain minimum competencies. It should not be easy to get a gun without passing background checks.

Gun advocates are fond of saying that guns don’t kill people, people do— and that’s true to some extent. But we need to be keeping guns away from the type of person who would use a gun to kill people. If a madman can’t get access to a gun, yes, they may choose some other tool. But the results might not be as lethal. I noticed in Wikipedia that about the same time as the Sandy Hook shooting, there was also a mass stabbing in China. Those victims are still alive.

I think the proposal by the NRA that teachers and school personnel should be walking around armed is nuts on its face. You can’t go around putting guards everywhere, and I’d also be worried about the possibility of accidents, like the man who shot his son because he thought the son was an intruder, or by the possibility that one of the students could get their hands on the teacher’s gun and use it, either to intentionally hurt someone, or just as a result of play acting.

Mental Health

I saw the blog post by the mother of the child who was disturbed, “Thinking the Unthinkable“, about being the parent of a possibly dangerous child. She’s right of course; more needs to be done to identify and, if possible, treat people with mental illness before something happens. But, this is much easier said than done in both cases. Not all mentally ill people are dangerous—do we err on the side of protecting society, at the expense of possibly over treating, or worse, locking up, innocent, non-dangerous people, or do we err on the side of protecting the rights of people to be let alone if they wish to be, and possibly miss someone who will cause problems? I don’t know the answer to that. In addition, the author notes that her son has already received several forms of treatment—what if he turns out to be simply untreatable? Then what?

The Media

I think what the media has done to Newtown is unconscionable. The night it happened, we watched the news for a while, and then it started getting repetitive. It became obvious that there was nothing else to say and that they were simply milking things, and I had to turn it off. The media needs to shut the fuck up and let that town alone. There is no excuse to be pushing microphones in the face of some kid. There is no excuse for going up to an overwrought parent, and asking them, “How do you feel?” There is no excuse for every two-bit local station to send their own camera crew and reporter to the scene, flooding the town with tv trucks. It used to be that local stations covered their own local area, and left the other news to the network; I think they need to return to that practice. The people of Newtown need to be left in peace to grieve, and hopefully, to recover.

The People of Newtown

Finally, we come to the most important part, the people of Newtown. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been in their shoes can imagine what they’re going through. I know I can’t, and I’m not going to try. Their lives will never be the same. People talk about healing, but I don’t think it’s the kind of wound that ever truly heals. It’s going to be part of their lives for the rest of their lives—and the survivors, siblings, classmates, friends, and even the parents are, for the most part, all young. They will be living with this for a long long  time. Hopefully, they will be able to support each other, and the rest of the town will support them, as they go through this process. What we can wish for them is that they are able to move past the pain, learn to live with their loss, and finally, be able to move on with the rest of their lives.