It’s time to Break It Down!
Imagine if you will a moment…encased in silence.
Those 7 lines of white space symbolize a respectful pause in memoriam for the 12 little girls, the 8little boys, and the 6 teachers and administrators whose lives were snuffed out prematurely, last Friday morning, in Newtown, Connecticut, by an Assault Rifle wielding gunman; only 20 years-old himself.
Just a week ago in this space, I referenced the Jovan Belcher and Clackamas County, Oregon incidents to fashion areintroduction to the conversation about guns and the violence too often wrought by irresponsible and often unstable gun owners. I emphasized then, that the incidents, horrific though they may have been, were not the point, but rather a convenient vehicle to remind readers of the results of gun violence in America.
It is with deepest regret that I acknowledge the attention of a mourning nation is once again riveted upon the continually emerging details of what can only be accurately characterized as a massacre. Of the 26 victims referenced above, all endured multiple wounds; some were shot nearly a dozen times. In several instances, those shot were mutilated beyond recognition. In some cases, parents and loved ones were advised by authorities not to view the remains.
In brief summation, the Newtown carnage was executed in three stages:
- Before he set out on his deadly rampage against 6 and 7 year-olds at their school, Adam Lanza murdered his mother, who was still in bed, at the home they shared. Mrs. Lanza, as the other victims, was shot multiple times (with a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle). Her wounds were head shots. Mrs. Lanza was divorced from Adam’s father, Peter.
- The younger Lanza then took four weapons to Sandy Hook. He brought three of them into the school; the assault rifle, and two handguns – a Glock 10 mm and a Sig Sauer 9 mm. He left the fourth, a shotgun, in his car. According to authorities, he shot all 26 victims with the rifle.
- As first responders closed in, Adam took his own life with a single shot to the head. By committing suicide, he was the only one of the 28 who died to be killed by a single gunshot.
It should be noted that Adam Lanza’s older brother, Ryan, reportedly told authorities that Adam had Asperger Syndrome, a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, mental health experts have cautioned against imputing any link between Asperger’s and violence.Aside his from living with the disease, a number of former associates have described Adam as very smart (enrolled in college at age 16), socially inept, shy quiet, withdrawn; a nerd. He was also an avid video-gamer. Some of the games he played most were designed around leadership, war, violence, and survival (Starcraft III & Warcraft). Never-the-less, most people whom reporters spoke to seemed surprised that Adamcould have carried out the acts of last Fridayin Newtown.
That’s really more than enough of the grisly, gory aspects of this particular case. After all, just as was the case last week, this post is not designed to reiterate the minutiae of the shootings. The intent, instead, is to share a simple opinion; “This Time Will Be Different!” At least, that is my thesis. If you want more of the nitty-gritty, just tune in to the news; they will have it for you.
When I penned last week’s post, the senseless acts of violence that would unfold just two days later at the Sandy Hook Elementary School were simply unimaginable. In the days that have ensued since Friday, the TV networks, the airways, the blogosphere, and the various social networking communities have all been electrified by the effusive outpouring of discourse, much of it civil, on the subject of the shootings. More important, how to prevent this kind of thing from continuing to occupy the orbit of a recurring pattern has been a trending discussion item.
I believe, as the Title suggests, within the micro-dynamics of this shooting lie the structural bases for navigating a different outcome. Unfortunately, events such as this have a tendency to play out through a political lens.As such, while the politics of disaster are always volatile, there has been no case, that so abruptly shoved into the collective face of America, the gritty details of the cold-bloodedmurder of so many children, en masse.That they happened to be mostly white will also likely (forgive the pun), color the dimensions of the ultimate response.
That racial caveat, while objectionable to some, is just a reflection of what moves the needle, not only in American discourse, but especially in framing a discussion so that it is viewed as a call to action. For example, annual crime statistics in Chicago are abysmal. Through December 11, 2012, 2,597 people had been shot; as of yesterday, 517 had been murdered, and of those, 62 were school aged (6-18).Needless to say, the vast majority of the shooting victims, the homicides and the school-aged victimsin Chicagoare black. Odds are you have not heard any vociferous national outcry to intervene. And yes, I will say it, President Obama, the Consoler-in-Chief, has not made a visit to the City, expressly to speak out on the need to curtail the violence that has become endemic in his adopted hometown.
And don’t get it twisted! I’m not knocking the POTUS (though on this issue, calling him to task is appropriate). I am making the point, as I did in developing the Title,Newtownis different! Because I am more concerned with outcomes than with finger-pointing, or with assaying recriminations, I embrace the notion that this is a good thing.In deed, I submit we are on the verge of moving FORWARD!
A number of Pols, both Democrats and Republicans, have expressed a willingness to debate gun laws, and to consider new legislation to control firearms in the aftermath of the Newtowndisaster. Walmart and Dick’s, two of the nation’s largest gun dealers, have limited advertising and the availability of brands of the AR-15assault weapon used in Newtown (and in Aurora, and in ClackamasCounty).
President Obama has declared he will use the power of his office to see that the events of Newtown are not repeated. Joe Manchin, Democratic Senator from West Virginia, an NRA Member who has made commercials with his gun in hand, said Monday that it is time to discuss gun policy and move toward regulating guns. Dianne Feinstein, Democratic Senator from California, has indicated that she with proffer gun control legislation on the first day of the new Congress. Senator Charles Grassley, of Iowa, has suggested it’s time to put gun control on the table. Finally, the National Rifle Association (NRA) broke its silence yesterday, and said it will work to ensure the events of Newtownare never repeated.
But all is certainly not of one accord. Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, positsthat the teachers at Sandy Hook should have been armed.Mr. Pratt is a proponent of the premise that, gun-free zones, not guns, are the problem. It should be noted that he is definitely not alone in his view. At a Tea Party rally on Monday, Texas Governor Rick Perry espoused the notion that anyone with a concealed handgun license should be able to take guns on public property in Texas, including schools. He urged state legislators to look at ways to improve safety at schools; ostensibly, he believes arming teachers is the preferred way to do that.
With that, there are still two sides to this argument. However, as the debate continues, there appears to be some erosion of the hard and fast line in the sand that has been so expertly manipulated by the gun lobby historically. It is this diminution of the power curve that gives me hope and fosters my belief that “This Time Will Be Different!”
I’m done; holla back!
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