America the Brutal

December 18, 2012 in Publisher's Corner

Sandy Hook Vigil

People stand with candles outside the overflow area of a vigil at the Saint Rose of Lima church in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14. Source: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters.

Why is America plagued by gun violence? Why are America’s children it’s most visible victim? Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn. seems the seasonal reminder of a recurrent national horror.

Adam Lanza, 20, fatally shot his mother before driving to the school in Sandy Hook. There he gained entry by breaking a window. What happened next is a matter of national media: Lanza shot and killed 6 adults and 20 children in the deadliest shooting since the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, which left 32 dead. Lanza apparently took his own life as a consequence of the arrival of first responders to the scene.

Sunday, President Barack Obama said at a vigil in Newton, Conn., “In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine.”

Monday, the president ordered his cabinet to examine the issue, including a possible reinstatement of an assault weapons ban. Democrats on Capitol Hill were also vocally supportive of reducing the availability of guns in America. Whether simply outlawing the tools of violence will hinder those dedicated to it remains dubious, however.

“We need to accept the reality that we’re not doing enough to protect our citizens,’’ Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said after a moment of silence on the Senate floor. “In the coming days and weeks we’ll engage in a meaningful conversation and proper debate about how to change laws and culture that allow this violence to continue to grow.’’

One can hope that an intelligent solution evolves out of the media sensation. Only seriously addressing the root causes of gun violence can prevent yet another tragedy. Rhetoric won’t bring back the dead. It assuages only those not directly impacted by the specter of senseless death.

Best regards,

Michael Hammill