You drop off your six or seven year old child at school, perhaps talking about the Christmas vacation about to begin. Maybe some seasonal activity you like doing together, like picking a tree. You go to work or return home to go about your daily routines. And then, some time later your every-day becomes the day your life was shattered. You hear news you can’t believe. Someone has gone to your elementary school and shot children… Frantically you ask, to yourself if no one else: Where is my child? Is she safe? Oh, my God, make him safe!
Now, days later, you know your child is gone, but you can’t believe it. Nineteen other children and six adults who did their best to protect them are also gone. Christmas now means pain and anguish and it will never be the same. What will? What can be?
I am trying to imagine the unthinkable nature of this attack to the families who lost cherished ones in this most unpredictable way. Newtown, Connecticut is a picture post card New England town, or was. It is the “last place in America” where one would suspect such a tragedy to occur, especially to six and seven year olds.
It is those children that make all the difference here. Not that it should be that way, but past mass slaughters have not prompted me to imagine the loss felt by parents and spouses and friends in the way this one has.
In July I wrote a post about the deranged shooter in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. I agreed with NY Times columnist David Brooks that these killers are uniquely deranged and “if they cannot find an easy way to get a new gun, they’ll surely find a way to get one of the 200 million guns that already exist in this country. Or they’ll use a bomb or find another way.”
Also, I noted the trend was towards less gun control not more, especially in Colorado. And I suggested that whatever lip service Barack Obama might give to gun control, little would happen because he would have bigger fish to fry in his second term.
This elementary school massacre changes everything. The slaughter of six and seven year old children, the most innocent of the innocent, has struck a deeper chord than the unfortunate parade of other mass murders. This now is a nation changed, so some change regarding gun laws will come. Perhaps changes in our violent movie and video game culture as well. And our approach to mental health and potential violence, too.
The discussion has already begun with unusual earnestness and we all know there are no simple answers. And, no, we cannot stop every insanely angry individual from diabolical acts, but we should be able to make it harder, much, much harder than it is today for that destiny to be fulfilled.