On Friday, a lone gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and opened fire on at least one classroom full of students.
Before the shooter, who has been identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, committed suicide he shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children and 6 adults, one of which was his own mother, a teacher’s aide to a Kindergarten class at the school.
It’s an unspeakable act of violence. And really, there are no words to aptly describe it.
Politically speaking, the consensus at a time like this is to forgo policy-based discussions and instead focus on the victims and their families who undoubtedly need our collective thoughts and prayers and support.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney echoed this sentiment at a briefing earlier today when he was asked about gun control.
“I think it’s important, on a day like today, to view this — as I know the president, as a father, does, and I as a father and others who are parents certainly do, which is to feel enormous sympathy for families that are affected and to do everything we can to support state and local law enforcement and support those who are enduring what appears to be a very tragic event,” Carney told reporters at the press briefing.
“There is, I am sure — will be, rather — a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I do not think today is that day.” Carney continued, reminding those in attendance that the President remains committed to reintroducing a ban on ‘assault weapons.’
Likewise, in his own comments on the tragedy, President Obama choose not to delve into the specifics of the gun control debate, saying that discussion should come at a future date.
“We’re going to have to come together to take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” Obama said. But for now, the thought was, we should mourn with the families of the victims.
Indeed. We should have a debate. In fact, gun owners are totally up for a debate on gun control. But today is definitely not that day. One would hope that we could all agree on this — but we cannot.
See, there are those in the mainstream media (the NYer’s Adam Gopnik analogized gun owners to baby killers) along with those who belong to pro-gun control organizations that believe now is not only the time to have the debate, but to push through stricter gun laws.
“The country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote in a press release. “Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response.”
With respect to Mr. Bloomberg, who is the co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, it’s not very clear – at least at this point – what the problem is or, for that matter, what gun control law would fix that aforementioned “problem” (note: Connecticut already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country; Brady Center gives it 3 out of 4 stars).
The point is we don’t know all the facts and until we do how can we fashion a law that will help prevent a similar situation from occurring?
Now this is pure speculation, but it may very well be the case that this 20-year-old had a history of mental illness (like almost all mass shooters, for more on this click here). As such, there were probably signs or what psychiatrists refer to as “psychological leakage” that he was a ticking time bomb.
If this turns out to be true, the real solution to the problem is to focus on ways to better identify those who pose a threat to themselves and others and then do whatever we can to keep them away from guns and other tools and implements that they may use to harm people.
Additionally, we must do a better job of defending the defenseless. It’s an unfortunate reality, but there’s a reason why shooters target “gun-free” zones. There’s little or no resistance.