Newtown and the Need for Soul-Searching

To begin, what happened yesterday at Sandy Hook Elementary School, with twenty-eight dead at the time of writing, was an atrocity rarely paralleled in recent American history. Yesterday was the closing scene in what has been a heart-wrenching year for communities all across the United States, communities like Aurora, Portland, Oakland, North Miami, Seattle, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and too many others. And now, Newtown, Connecticut. Words are unable to describe the horrors of civilian death-especially the cold-blooded murder of twenty innocent children. The Wall Street Journal provided a simple response to the tragedy: “This is the one unthinkable event.” In the coming days, many Americans will choose to cope by watching the news obsessively, digesting every new fact about the shooter and his victims. Yet, others will choose to turn off the television, to hide themselves from the disturbing coverage. And it is easy to see why. Already, there are those in the political sphere and in the activist community who are trying to use this event as a means to an end. While Americans are still grieving, these people are preparing their new TV ads and rallies and slogans for the upcoming battle about gun rights and gun control. Shame on them. However, the debate cannot be postponed forever, and it is a discussion that Americans need to have. Can we truly be a civilized nation when our laws allow massacres like this to take place? Yet, could we still remain a free people if our ability to defend ourselves was restricted legislatively? On one end, Democrats want restrictions on some firearms, and Republicans are largely divided on the issue. Where then are moderates to go? This article, rather than advocate one particular policy, will examine the gun debate, and its relationship to the state of the Union.

Either there aren’t strong-enough gun control laws, or they just don’t work. The shooting in Connecticut demonstrates this idea. How could the most deadly elementary school shooting in U.S. history take place with some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation? Therefore, the American public should be wary of anyone who tries to use the Newport tragedy as a bullet point for either side.

To say that the nation needs to do some soul-searching would be an understatement. To restrict the inevitable dialogue to only gun control legislation would be narrow-minded. There are a variety of challenges facing this nation. How do we keep guns out of the wrong hands? How do we build a society where violence is less frequent? While I honestly don’t know the answers to those questions, I do know this: If D.C . policymakers play politics-as-usual with the Newtown tragedy, then America will never get the answers that it needs so desperately.

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4 thoughts on “Newtown and the Need for Soul-Searching”

  1. Chris, you raise some of the questions that need to be discussed. At the core of this evil act is the God given right each person has, the ability to chose right or wrong, good or evil. The guns are only a means to the end, take them away and evil will find a different venue. I don’t think iti is a gun control issue. I think, it is a mental health and crime issue. Until we respect life and each other, until we recognize signs when someone is ill and are willingly to act, until we have spiritual leadership and are followers of Jesus, it will not surprise me to hear of these unspeakable events. My heart breaks for these families. We all lost yesterday. The only response I know is to pray, for healing and hope.

    1. Rachel, you’re right. Guns are only a piece of the violence epidemic, however crucial a piece. Our nation is addicted to violence. Our nation is sick with it, more so than any other “developed” nation. We need to address all of our systems: mental health, wage suppression, economic redistribution in favor of the wealthy, racism; the list goes on.
      I, too, pray for hope and healing. As the peacemakers Jesus calls us to be, we might find our spiritual imagination and creativity-for-solution sparked by reading about what others are doing for peace and transformation. We can transmit these conversations from blogs to our churches and communities of faith. We can teach our children about the gravity of human life and the interconnectedness thereof.
      I’m still searching for answers too …

  2. Rachel and David: Your concerns regarding the mental healthcare infrastructure are certainly my concerns as well. In light of the Newtown massacre, this ought to be an area of particular priority for U.S. policymakers. I personally believe that a crisis of this complexity can only be solved by some collaboration of state and local government, along with the private sector, charities, and religious organizations. What do you think?

  3. Most of the mass shootings that I hear about, if I am not mistaken, do come from people who have a mental illness; anyone can take revenge, but only a mentally ill person would murder his own mother and then shoot little children multiple times up close. It’s sick, and it’s inexplicable. Policy makers need to look behind the barrel and get to the root of the issue. It is practically impossible right now for parents to get control over an adult child who is mentally unstable, unless he poses an immediate threat to himself or others. However, as the nation has seen, these mass murderers are unpredictable. Maybe some policies should be set in place that allows parents to get their grown children medicated before a disaster happens.This fight may or may not be about gun control; it is certainly about the people who control the guns.

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