Sunday, December 16, 2012

Some Thoughts About the Connecticut Shootings

(A note from The Blog...

I started writing this Friday night. Since then, some new revelations have surfaced. I am going to post the following as I wrote it and will insert comments and links to news stories where it seems appropriate. I have also replaced some "todays" and "this mornings" with "Fridays" where the need to be.)



Sandy Hook.

Names of places so quaint and evocative of idyllic, small town life that they seem almost fictional.

Early Friday morning, the news didn't so much "break," but rather, seemed to seep slowly through tiny fractures in the masonry of reality.

A shooting at a school in Connecticut. Unknown injuries. Identity of the gunman, unknown.

The second shooting of the sort in less than a week. The fourth (at least) in the past year.

How many in the last decade or so?

Columbine High School, 1999

Los Angeles Jewish Community Center, 1999

Virginia Tech, 2007

The Museum of Tolerance,  2009

Fort Hood, 2009

The D.C Snipers, 2010

Gabby Giffords, Tucson, 2011

Aurora, Colorado, 2012

Oregon Mall, 6 days ago

Sandy Hook Elementary School, Friday

(A quick glance at my Google search for "Mall Shooting" shows that several other mall shootings occurred in 2012, including one in Wisconsin and one in Indiana. I should also include the massacre in the Orange County, CA beauty salon about a year ago.)

And America shook it's head and shrugged.

"Another typical news cycle in today's America."

But, as the morning turned to afternoon, the fractures widened and became cracks. And with each new revelation, the story became more and more horrifying.

Twenty first grade students dead. Seven adults, including the school principal, a student teacher, {*insert* Maybe not a student teacher, after all. But a young, new teacher} a school psychologist and the shooter's own Kindergarden teacher mother, dead.  (Or, maybe she wasn't a kindergarden teacher. And, maybe not even connected to the Sandy Hook school. The media can't seem to pin this information down.)

The shooter, a boy in his late teens, dead by his own hand.

According to the shooter's brother, the young gunman "may" have had Asperger's Syndrome and a "personality disorder."

{A fascinating article about the shooter and what is known about him appears here and gives us new, and even more horrifying insight.}

According to the police, the shooter was in possession of two 9mm handguns (a Glock and a Sig Sauer,) and an assault rifle.

All three weapons were registered to the shooter's mother. {Newer reports tell us that she was a gun collector who went to great lengths to purchase and license a number of guns, as, it would seem, a hobby. And, to protect her home from whatever she thought that her home would need protecting from. It would seem that she is what The Blog would think of as a "gun nut," driven by fear and paranoia. She taught her children how to use them. [As she should in a household with guns.] It seems to me that that didn't turn out so well for her.)

Predictably, within the first few hours of the shooting, both sides of the gun debate took the opportunity to politicize the tragedy.

Those of you who know me, or have followed my posts over the past year, know where I come down on the issue of guns. But, my intent with this post is not to argue the politics of guns.

The purpose of this post is not to argue for gun control. I have done so in the past and will do so in the future.

Right now, I just want to make a few random observations and ask a few questions.

What possible reason did a Kindergarden teacher (?) with two sons own two police grade handguns and an assault rifle? {We now know the answer. She was a gun "collector."}  And why were they so easily accessible to a young son with a "personality disorder?" (See the link above.)

Why has the shooter been described as "maybe" having Asperger's Syndrome and a "personality disorder." Why, in the affluent world of Newtown, wasn't the son of a teacher definitively diagnosed and treated?

(BTW... while there are several definitions of "personality disorder" available, psychosis and sociopathy are the big, bad ones. And, while not all Asperger's patients are sociopaths, a great many sociopaths also present with Asperger's. But, before anyone fires up their poison pens, let me clarify that I am not suggesting for a minute that Asperger's was the reason for the shooter's violence. It's the "personality disorder" that concerns me. Some of the world's most brilliant and successful people have Asperger's and have, as far as I know, never killed anyone.)

How did the shooter get such easy access to his mother's weapons?

That seems to be the big question.

We may get those answers as the investigation continues.

Or, we may not.

Believe it or not, The Blog has no less than three personal friends who make their living selling guns to the general public. All three are legitimate, licensed dealers. As far as I know, none of them operate by selling fear, unlike the shop that I posted about several months ago.

But, before Friday had passed, all three of my gun dealing friends had scrambled to defend guns and proclaim that this is a mental health problem.

While I don't entirely agree with the first part, I agree 100% with the second part.

As I said, I am not here tonight to argue. This is a worthy discussion for a future date. Probably soon.

But, two posts from an old college buddy, who got his dealer's license less than a year ago, really caught my eye and I feel compelled to comment on them.

Before I do, let me say, "I get it." Selling firearms is the way you make your living. I would expect you to defend that. You tell us that guns themselves are not the problem, bad people are. And, to some extent, you are right.

But, it is much the same thing as when I say that daytime, informational talk shows exist solely to educate and benefit the public, while ignoring the fact that they also exist to, primarily, entertain the public as something of a freak-show that enriches the production company and the networks.

It is our human nature to develop a bit of "Stockholm Syndrome" regarding whatever business provides our paychecks.

My friend "Jim" (not his real name) posted this...

His point is factual.

But, I have to ask.

Who, "Jim," do you suggest should have been armed at Sandy Hook?

The teachers? Like they don't have enough responsibility already? The principal? Ditto.

Besides, have you ever seen the 1982 movie, "Class of 1984?"

In one scene, Roddy McDowall as a teacher at the end of his rope, is dealing with a class of hellions. He pulls a gun out of his desk and starts firing it into the ceiling.

Because, really.

A teacher with a gun will get to that point. And that is not a good thing.

Security guards already wander the halls of our schools. (When I was a kid, only the school custodian and a few stoners wandered the halls of our school. But, I guess, it's a different world, today.)

So, who's left?

Should a bunch of 6 and 7-year-olds come to school strapped? (Yes, that is an ad absurdum argument. The whole argument is absurd.)

He followed up with this "statistic..."

Um, actually, no.

Firearms are the number one weapon used in homicides. Blunt objects, including baseball bats, come in at number four.

Nice try, though.

Okay. I think that that is enough about this for now. We can talk about things like gun control and mental health at a later date.

For now, my thoughts and sympathy go out to the people of Newtown. As I am sure yours do, too.

Next post...

Something frivolous to lighten the mood.

See you then!

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