Thoughts on the Newtown, Connecticut Shootings

(I began writing this Friday.)

It  has been a somber day. I began the day thinking about my dad, who died 5 years ago today. I thought about his dedication to his God, to his family, and to his country. I  thought about how proud he was of his 4 children and 12 grandchildren, and how proud he would have been to know that his youngest grandchild, my son, would be enlisting soon in the U.S. Navy. (My son, by the way, signed up Saturday for a 6-year term, and will leave for Boot Camp at the end of March.)

Then it became a surreal day, the memory of which will be forever clouded by the senseless deaths of 20 elementary school students and several school employees in Newton, Connecticut.

My prayers will be offered on behalf of the parents who will sit down for dinner in the days and weeks to come and stare at empty seats; who will awaken tomorrow morning and the next and the next and rush to their child’s bed with the heartbreaking hope that they’ve just awoken from a most unimaginable nightmare, only to know that it wasn’t a nightmare at all. My heart breaks for the parents who will pass by their children’s rooms and forever hear faint echos of the laughter of those they will never hold again; those who will forever see their child’s innocent face, beaming, as they run to them and say “Mommy! Daddy! Look what I drew!” I cannot imagine what they’re feeling, and hopefully I will never be able to understand that feeling. I’ll also be praying for the families of the 6 adults who died, as their families will miss them as well, and for the children and teachers who survived. I’m not a big fan of long and eloquent prayers. God knows what each of the effected families need, and who am I to tell HIM what they need?

President Obama, with whom I rarely agree,  remarked on the sense of overwhelming grief that all of America, perhaps most acutely parents, feels today, and that this type of thing has happened all too frequently over the past few years, and that “as a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it’s an elementary school in Newton, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago…we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this…” with which I agree wholeheartedly.

The conclusion to that thought; however, was ominous: …regardless of the politics.” The events of Friday, December 14, 2012 are already serving as a clarion call for those on the side of stricter gun control laws. A New York congressman has demanded that our nation’s elected leaders “act on our outrage” to immediately enact stricter gun control laws.  However, since the 1981 attempt on President Ronald Reagan’s life, and the more recent Columbine shootings in 1999, gun control laws throughout the U.S. have tended to place more restrictions on ownership, with more frequent similar incidents, and that Connecticut’s are among the most stringent in the nation.

I hate drawing this comparison, but it’s valid: do we blame the carpenter or his tools for poor construction? Hammers don’t swing themselves. Saw blades cut the board, but if it’s too short, was it the saw’s fault,  or did the carpenter simply mess up? Did the pencil misspell the word, or the writer? Did the Titanic’s hull just blow open of its own accord, or was it steered too near an iceberg? How do we prevent the hammer from hitting our thumb, or a board from being too short? How do we prevent misspelled words, or ships from colliding with icebergs?

I can fully understand the New York congressman’s sentiments, but I ask you to consider whether this day would have been any less tragic if the killer had walked onto that grade school campus with a single revolver and killed only 6 children, or if he had used a knife to kill 22, as also happened was attempted Friday in China. Of course not. I ask you to consider this type of story ( where armed opposition to another such psychopath seems to have encouraged an early end, or this one, courtesy of the Huffington Post  (, where a single armed patron turned away 2 armed would-be thieves. These armed, law-abiding citizens refused to allow more victims to be claimed.

And so I ask you to consider whether taking reactionary measures, such as banning a group of inanimate objects, will really solve the problem, or if perhaps the real solution is to be found by honestly reviewing the gradual landslide of changes in our society’s collective conscience over the past 30 or 40 years and developing a plan to reverse those changes and restore our national conscience.