As of this posting, the heartbreaking news is that a single gunman armed with a rifle and two pistols entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and opened fire, killing 27 people, 20 of them children. 6 adults also died before the deranged gunman killed himself.
The tragic loss of these dear and beloved children – some as young as 5, is heartbreaking and fills not only their family and friends with grief, but the nation as a whole as well. The calamity is made even worse by knowing that in only a few more days these families will have to face Christmas Day without their loved ones.
It’s understandable in the wake of such tragic violence to blame firearms – especially considering other recent shootings, such as the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher and his pregnant girlfriend on December 1, followed by 3 deaths (including the shooter) at the Clackamas Town Center in Oregon. There were 12 deaths in the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting July 20, in which the murderer surrendered to police, and 7 deaths at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in August.
However, blaming guns would be the wrong response. In each and every case, the shooter was horrifyingly deranged and mentally ill to varying degrees. In each and every case unarmed and vulnerable innocents were deliberately chosen as targets. Bob Costas caused a political firestorm after the Belcher incident when on NBC’s Sunday Night Football the day after the incident he called for gun control legislation, going even so far as to quote Kansas City-based leftist writer Jason Whitlock, who had idiotically asserted in the wake of the incident; “If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.” Ask the scores of women who have died after being beaten to death by their worthless scum partners if such a thing is true.
We may never truly know the motivating factor for any of these outbursts, but what led each of these people and their predecessors to carry out these acts of depravity were not the weapons they possessed. It wasn’t the guns that made them do it. Far more critically, they lived in a culture in which they were exposed on a daily basis – beginning in early childhood – to uncountable acts of violence portrayed on the screen; acts justified by pursuit of wealth, by cultural background, as a response to insults or slights, or for no reason whatsoever. They were exposed to a depraved culture that embraces freedom of expression, however crude or vulgar and which luxuriates in materialism but not the corresponding responsibility. They were exposed to a culture with a lack of morals that clearly and distinctly define right and wrong or good and evil, but instead tries to find equivalency, or allows for definition of “individual truth”.
Until these systemic, foundational crises are solved, these tragedies will continue. Not because of guns, but because at the core of the overwhelmingly vast number of these shooters there is no value system that prizes right over wrong, no morality that dictates that decisions have consequences, no authority to whom an answer must be given. Until and unless that empty space is filled with something positive, children and families will continue to suffer the consequences.