Deep Sorrows: My Thoughts On The Tragic Shootings In Connecticut
First Columbine High School - 17 young teenagers dead. It got to be such an big issue that Michael Moore filmed a documentary, Bowling For Columbine, that discussed at length the gun culture in America and how that led to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold laying waste to their school that April morning in 1999.
Then Virginia Tech University - 33 young Hokies shot dead, including the gunman. The worst school shooting in U.S. history.
Now this. And quite frankly, my sadness over those 27 people who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School is mixed with this feeling:
I am SO sick and tired of people going into schools and mowing down innocent kids!
27 people at that Newtown, CT school are gone - cut down way before their time - including the principal and 20 first graders!
Six and seven-year old children who will never have a chance to even reach puberty, let alone grow up as of this writing, the first two of those little cherubs were buried with undoubtedly more to come.
Being that I spent a little over 20 years working with elementary school youngsters as a P.E. teacher, a sports coach, a tutor, and working in after school programs, this tragedy particularly hit home.
It would be easy to paint Adam Lanza, the 20-year old responsible for the carnage, as the literal personification of evil or even Satan himself for murdering all those little kids as well as his mother and six other adults, but doing that would be too simplistic because of this...
After doing research on Lanza by reading news articles from Yahoo.com and the Los Angeles Times - though this is strictly speculation and I don't pretend to have any expert knowledge - it seems to me that this was a case of extreme mental illness combined with feeling like a pronounced outcast due to, according to reports, of him evidently having Asperger's Disorder and ultimately snapping in the worst way because of that, with Lanza killing his mother, who was nothing but supportive of her younger son and was planning on moving out of Newtown, roughly 60 miles east of New York City, for his benefit.
Like so many mass shooters before him, this was a young guy who, to state the obvious, was so messed up in the head that he not only took the life of the woman who gave him life, but the lives of twenty innocent little kids, who, in light of Christmas approaching, probably still believed in Santa Claus.
At least some of them anyway.
Since this senseless madness, there have been inevitable calls of the government to, once and for all, enact the strictest of gun control policies to make sure that these killings permanently cease. Indeed, all the shows on CNN, MSNBC, and other news channels have featured people stating, "If not now, then when?
In his reaction to the tragedy, Moore stated:
"The way to honor these dead children is to demand strict gun control, free mental care, and an end to violence as public policy."
Let me emphasize my stance on gun control by stating that I completely support what Moore is advocating. No one wants severe restrictions on buying and owning guns more than me.
And no one wants free mental care - free health care, really - and an end to violence as policy more than I do. However...
I must be honest when I say that as far as strict gun control and free universal health care as well as mental health care happening, as well as ending this type of violence for good, well...
When I see those things come to pass, I'll, in Jesus' words, Rejoyce, and be exceedingly glad..." but if I said that I have optimism of seeing what Moore and so many others want actually happen in the near future, I would be lying.
Certainly the National Rifle Association, those who hold the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - the one giving citizens the right to bear arms - so dear to their hearts, and more or less the rest of the far-right conservatives out there, would fight tooth and nail against any concrete policy changes as far as further restrictions to buying and owning guns; I remember on Bowling For Columbine seeing the late actor Charlton Heston standing before a packed house at an NRA convention in Denver, CO, just north of where the Columbine shootings took place, holding a rifle high in the air and proclaiming, "From my cold, dead hands!"
These are the folks that see the killings in Newtown and at Columbine and Virginia Tech as horribly tragic incidents, but since "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" as they always say, these mass murders, as bad as they are, cannot preclude an American's basic right to owning a gun.
Like millions of individuals, I would love to see some real change in our country's gun culture and some true change in how we take care of those whose mental illness is so pronounced that they are a real danger to others as well as themselves, and I hope I live long enough to see that one day.
Until then, I'll join the rest of the world in offering my condolences to the folks in that small Connecticut town and a sincere rest in peace to those 27 people, including those twelve little girls and eight little boys, who so unnecessarily perished.
And a pronounced hope of our Congress' passage of some concrete gun laws and mental health policies to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again, so that their deaths will ultimately not be in vain.