Friday, December 14, 2012

It's Time to Start Talking About Gun Violence.

How many times have we had to talk about this? And yet, it keeps happening. All this morning, I've been thinking about what Adam Gopnik wrote in a New Yorker blog back in July.

The truth is made worse by the reality that no one —really no one—anywhere on the political spectrum has the courage to speak out about the madness of unleashed guns and what they do to American life. That includes the President, whose consoling message managed to avoid the issue of why these killings take place. Of course, we don’t know, and perhaps never will, what exactly “made him” do what he did; but we know how he did it. Those who fight for the right of every madman and every criminal to have as many people-killing weapons as they want share moral responsibility for what happened last night—as they will when it happens again. And it will happen again. [...]

But nothing changes: the blood lobby still blares out its certainties, including the pretense that the Second Amendment—despite the clear grammar of its first sentence—is designed not to protect citizen militias but to make sure that no lunatic goes unarmed. Make sure that guns designed for no reason save to kill people are freely available to anyone who wants one—and that is, and remains, the essential American condition—and then be shocked when children are killed. For all the good work the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence tries to do, nothing changes. On the last episode of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” Jeff Daniels’s character, in a scene set shortly before the Gabrielle Giffords gun massacre, was thought to display political courage by showing, accurately enough, that it’s a lie to say that Barack Obama is in any way in favor of gun control. This was said in Obama’s defense.

Only in America. Every country has, along with its core civilities and traditions, some kind of inner madness, a belief so irrational that even death and destruction cannot alter it. In Europe not long ago it was the belief that “honor” of the nation was so important that any insult to it had to be avenged by millions of lives. In America, it has been, for so long now, the belief that guns designed to kill people indifferently and in great numbers can be widely available and not have it end with people being killed, indifferently and in great numbers. The argument has gotten dully repetitive: How does one argue with someone convinced that the routine massacre of our children is the price we must pay for our freedom to have guns, or rather to have guns that make us feel free? You can only shake your head and maybe cry a little. “Gun Crazy” is the title of one the best films about the American romance with violence. And gun-crazy we remain.

It happened again. This time, elementary school students in Connecticut were targeted. At least 26 people have died so far.

Multiple fatalities have been reported at a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., about 65 miles northeast of New York City. One law enforcement offcial said preliminary reports suggested there could be as many as 20 fatalities. [Again, the official fatality count now includes 18 children and at least 8 adults.]

One state official said that an adult gunman was believed to be dead in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The gunman was in possession of at least two firearms, the official said.

Meredith Artley, the managing editor of, has a friend who works at the school. "She volunteers with the school as well," Artley said on CNNr.

The woman was in close vicinity to the shooting, which happened in the hallway, according to Ms. Artley. "She described it as a 'Pop, pop, pop,''' Ms Artley added. "She said three people went out into the hall and only one person came back, the vice principal, she said, who was shot in the leg or the foot, who came crawling back. She cowered under the table and called 911. She never saw the shooting. There must have been a hundred rounds.''

Danbury Hospital said it was treating three patients from the shooting scene, according to its Facebook page. The hospital, which is not far from the elementary school, said it was on lockdown.

Frankly, I'm horrified right now. How could someone do this? And why has it become so easy for someone to do this?

I keep thinking of my memories of elementary school. We never had to do "mass shooting drills". And I never had to worry about a domestic terrorist arriving in the classroom.

Of course, there are deranged and disgusting people in this world. Unfortunately, that will never change. However, what has to change is allowing these very people to commit acts of terrorism on our soil. And what has to change is the celebration and downright worship of assault weapons that should have never been allowed to become so commonplace in civilian life.

There. I said it.

Obviously, we don't yet know all the facts of this case. But so far, it's looking incredibly likely that Newtown, Connecticut, is now suffering immense loss because of a deranged individual getting one's hands on dangerous assault weapons. There may have been no background check. And clearly, there was no fail-safe to prevent so many bullets from being released so quickly.

Will we ever learn? And will we ever have an honest discussion on how to correct this horrifying failure in public policy? How many more people have to die before we reconsider our extreme allegiance to the gun lobby?

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