I never quite know what to say whenever a public tragedy occurs. Everything sounds like an obligatory platitude, or something that has already been said, or something that shouldn’t even need to be said. Ultimately the slaying of 20 innocent children along with 6 adults is horrific beyond words.
The reality we live in is one in which almost everyone agrees that to “politicize” tragedy is wrong, and in which almost everyone does it anyway. It didn’t take long for the gun-grabbers to begin howling against the NRA, the 2nd amendment, and guns in general. Some of the howling may really be sincere. Children died, and emotions are running extremely high. Some people may really believe that taking away my right to own a gun, and the rights of millions upon millions of sane, decent people’s right to do the same, is necessary to protect society from the handful of psychotic individuals who will use guns to inflict harm on the innocent.
So this is not an angry tirade against the gun-grabbers (as well as the others I will surely also offend). If I could inject tone into written words, I’d say this is more of a plea, though not a hysterical one.
First: crazy people, like criminals in control of their faculties, don’t obey laws. In the case of crazy people, they don’t even recognize them. Laws only restrain the behavior of people who are mostly already good and the least likely to abuse their rightful liberties. Now the law can punish the rational criminals, and it can keep the crazy people off the streets. But it can’t prevent either of them from doing what they will do. Not even the totalitarian Chinese state can prevent vicious and sometimes fatal knife attacks from occurring in Chinese schools.
Secondly: no law permitted the mentally deranged individual who killed these children to purchase or obtain a firearm. Like most people in these situations, he simply grabbed whatever guns were available, in this case – as I understand it – those that belonged to his mother. The gun laws in Connecticut are already very strong. Meanwhile, as I have pointed out in the past, places like Vermont or Switzerland have extremely lenient gun laws along with cultures in which firearms are respected, and correspondingly low gun homicide rates. Guns are not the problem. Tragedies can make it really feel that way, I grant, but policies can’t be based upon raw emotions. They should be based upon principles and they should be informed by the relevant facts and statistics. Laws based upon the emotional mood of the moment have never and will never lead to anything good, and will likely result in even greater evils. We have to separate the very necessary and human acts of grieving, mourning, and even avenging from policy-making.
Third: we need to confront our own culture of violence. By promoting abortion, torture, preemptive war and drone strikes, both the left and the right in this country have made the world more violent and more dangerous. What happened in CT was tragic. Now just imagine how parents and friends and family members feel thousands of miles away when a predator drone takes out small children, or when babies are born with horrible defects caused by our radioactive weapons.
You can tell me that somehow abortion “isn’t the same” because it’s “just a fetus” or the child would have a “bad life”, or that it is justifiable to blow up a dozen women and children if we get one terrorist, that these reasons are somehow good in themselves with bad effects while what happened today was just plain bad. I see it the other way around. What happened today was almost like a natural disaster – unpredictable and unintentional (I assume that the shooter was completely insane, but I suppose we have to wait for the details to be certain). Meanwhile our policies are conscious, and they are executed by conscious beings. When children die in the womb or from a drone strike, someone pressed the button, and they likely did it with full moral faculties, secure because it was “legal” (and therefore good, or at least not bad, right?) or because it was ordered by a superior. Or maybe they sometimes say, “I didn’t have a choice”, I was too poor to bear a child (and just couldn’t give it up for adoption), or I would have been court-martialed or whatever. The insane shooter had far less of a choice, assuming he really was insane. So what does that make you?
Maybe that was “too political.” But at least give me credit for hating everyone’s politics today.