I could have lived happily ever after without knowing where Newtown, Connecticut is. I certainly could have lived my life quite nicely without ever knowing that there was an elementary school in Newtown called Sandy Hook. However, as it has so many times in the past few years, reality intrudes into the little bubbles we seal ourselves in, and the world’s attention turns to these places to show us horrific images of senseless violence and unimaginable loss.
As the news unfolded today, my heart was torn in two. One half was filled with tears and sorrows for the families of the children so pointlessly murdered, and I grieve for the community of Newtown. I live in Aurora, Colorado, not far from the theaters that were the scene of a horrific massacre not that long ago. While I did not lose anyone in that tragedy, I understand the feelings that rip through the community where such shootings take place: the shock, the disbelief that something could happen here, in my town. And, I understand the fear, the wonder if it will happen again, here, and, if this time, it will be me, or someone I love, who is slaughtered by someone mentally unstable. (Let us not, however, get caught up in the “Let’s blame the mentally ill” rather than blaming the accessibility of such high-powered weapons. Yes, not everyone who owns guns is going to open fire on innocent people. No, not everyone with a mental illness is violent. Simply blaming someone because they’re mentally ill dismisses the larger problem of accessibility of such weapons of mass destruction — yes, that is what they are. The issue of gun access is much too complex to box into one, easily digestible soundbite. Most Americans, myself included, don’t want guns banned. We just want better control.) But, I digress. I am not a pundit, I don’t know the finer points of debate and logic. I’m not here to write a well-thought argument for gun control. I’ll leave that to other, better wordsmiths than I.
As the news unfolded today, my heart was torn in two. The half that was not full of sorrow and grief for the victim’s families was filled with rage. It’s a rage that says “Why are we at this point again? Wasn’t Columbine supposed to be a lesson? Wasn’t Aurora? Wasn’t Virginia Tech? Weren’t the temple in Wisconsin, and the mall in Portland supposed to teach us something?” My rage is that we are here, again, at this point, shocked, horrified, and numb at scenes of such senseless violence. I’m angry and fearful that the end result will be the same: nothing changes.
My anger was bouncing around my heart and mind all day, unable to be expressed because I’m not the kind of writer who can eloquently express anger and still make a point. My anger is expressed mostly by just coming up with creative insults, which never really accomplishes anything productive. So, I’ve been reading other, much finer writers than I, and I found two blog posts that articulate the words that have been going through my head all day, and make sense of what my raging anger has been trying to formulate all day.
The first is from the fine writer, Adam Gopnik (I hope you read the rest of his short essay too):
The people who fight and lobby and legislate to make guns regularly available are complicit in the murder of those children. They have made a clear moral choice: that the comfort and emotional reassurance they take from the possession of guns, placed in the balance even against the routine murder of innocent children, is of supreme value. Whatever satisfaction gun owners take from their guns—we know for certain that there is no prudential value in them—is more important than children’s lives. Give them credit: life is making moral choices, and that’s a moral choice, clearly made.
And, secondly, John Cole, over at Balloon Juice writes these words, with which I will leave you to think on for awhile (also, be sure to read the whole post here)
All I can think right now is how many moms have Christmas present hidden all over their house and were told this morning that their child is dead. How many of them will now look at a Christmas tree, knowing their child will not be there on Christmas morning to open the presents lovingly purchased and wrapped and hidden? How many of these parents struggled for years to get pregnant, and now their kid, because of some lunatic with an easily accessible gun, is dead? How many grandparents who waited for 30 years to have a grandchild, have plane tickets booked for the Holidays, and now need to change those plans and come up earlier to bury their grandchild.
And then the residual trauma. How many of these families will survive? How many of them will be driven to divorce by the trauma. How many of the siblings will never, ever be the same? I talked to my mom on the phone, and she is just inconsolable and simply can not watch the coverage. She’s worried the parents will kill themselves. This shooter and his easily accessed guns did not just kill 27 people. He ruined thousands of lives. And let’s not forget about the first responders. I don’t care how tough of a cop or a fireman you are, you will never be the same. We’ll have dozens of people with PTSD, leading to alcoholism and drug abuse and family problems.
It’s just so god damned awful, it is hard to comprehend. Yet the same fucking assholes who enable this kind of stuff are now going to tell us all that now is not the time to talk about gun control (lest we “politicize it”) and that we need more guns to keep this from happening again.