Don’t get me wrong—I think it’s too soon to talk about anything substantive after the blunt-force trauma we all suffered from the news of the Newtown massacre.
But that hasn’t stopped some people. In fact, on an NPR news update this morning, I heard more about calls for gun control than I did about the shooter, whom they didn’t even mention—not by name (Adam Lanza, apparently), not be deed. The children aren’t even buried, and we’re arguing over assault weapons bans, not who actually killed them, and why. There is a time and place for the issue. I’d rather it not be now.
But let me plant just one thought in your minds to hold off the torrent of gun control rhetoric in the media: perhaps there weren’t too many guns at Sandy Hook Elementary School yesterday, but one too few. If even one person at the school had been trained in firearms and deputized to keep a weapon on his or her person, the loss of life might have been lessened or avoided altogether. (Wouldn’t that person constitute a “well-regulated militia”, as called for in the Second Amendment?) Perhaps. If. Might. I don’t know. But conversations need two sides. When we’re ready to have one, let both sides be heard.
PS: I’ve never owned a gun, and don’t want to, but I’m sympathetic to those who do. As it did on many issues, 9/11 changed my mind. Shortly after that date in 2001, my kids’ school held an assembly—probably Thanksgiving, maybe Christmas (I mean winter). They do assemblies well there: kids singing, reciting, sharing—all very adorable. But I couldn’t keep my eyes off the doors of the assembly hall. What if terrorists burst through them, spraying bullets indiscriminately? Emotions were still raw then. (Two of the four planes that crashed left from Boston; after NYC and Washington, we suffered too.) We still didn’t know who, if anyone, was among us; and what, if anything, they intended to do. But after what they did do—on 9/11 and before—no act was beyond their evil imagining.
There would have been nothing to be done. Short of a “Let’s roll” moment of unarmed adults charging armed and well-trained terrorists, nothing would have stopped them. In the Harry Potter books, baby Harry is protected from the dark magic of Voldemort by the spell of parental love cast by his mother. Love, we are taught, is a magic that evil cannot comprehend. But love wouldn’t have protected our children singing “Over the River and Through the Woods” that day, and love didn’t protect those poor children yesterday. My worst nightmare (I was kind of a mess back then) came true—in a different time, at a different place, from a different source than I expected. We weren’t ready then, and we weren’t ready yesterday.
We send our most vulnerable and our most valued treasures to a single building every day, under the protection of people who aren’t prepared to protect them. And we just hope that the evil in this world that is made evident every day won’t touch them. It works most days; yesterday it didn’t.