Friday, December 14, 2012
Who Should We Blame?
By Alan Caruba
At the end of the day, what we know is that a gunman entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 18 kindergartners and nine adults for twenty-seven in all. Among the victims was his mother, a teacher at the school, killed prior to the massacre.
It is a monstrous crime, but differs only in the details from comparable crimes in recent years. The shooter in the Colorado movie theater on July 20 this year comes to mind, the shooter of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Jan 8, 2011, and of course, the two young killers at Columbine High School in 1999. And doesn’t 1999 seem an age ago?
Would it surprise you that there is a computer game available called “Kindergarten Killer” that says it’s "a great way to relieve stress"?
The media and the nation will now engage in the same analysis that always follows these events; who or what to blame.
Some will blame our “gun culture” and call for more restrictions on gun sales. The obvious answer is that people kill other people with every manner of instrument available from kitchen knives to a lamp cord. Guns may facilitate the killing, but someone has to pull the trigger first.
Others will blame the nation’s penchant for movies and television shows that show so much killing that it dulls the senses to the violence, but I grew up on cowboy films in the 1940s and 50s when the “good guy” wore a white hat and usually dispatched the “bad guy” by the end of the film.
In one of the most memorable scenes from “The Shootist”, John Wayne’s last film about an old gunfighter, his character, John Bernard Books, imparts his reason for having killed a few bad guys. “I won’t be wronged. I won’t be insulted. I won’t be laid a-hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I require the same from them.” A simple, but effective morality.
So, yes, Americans have always been fond of guns, but we forget that they were a necessity for much of the history of the nation in which colonists and then settlers moving West routinely hunted for venison, bear, geese, ducks, rabbits, wild turkey and anything else that put meat on the table.
You may be astonished to learn, as journalist James Sterba points out in his book, “Nature Wars”, that America has “an informal army equal to the manpower in the ten largest armed forces in the world—China, United States, India, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and Vietnam—combined.” Hunters.
Deer are the favorite game of hunters and ten million Americans take to the forest and field to bring one home in the autumn. “Pennsylvania alone fields a force of deer hunters twice the size of the U.S. Army.”
If it were just the quantity of guns that are to blame for the day’s tragedy, one would think that these events would be more common. It is precisely because they are not common that we find ourselves appalled by the news reports. When it involves innocent children, it just adds to the horror.
Then we must ask ourselves if there is so much mental illness in the nation that it may be a contributing factor. Mental illness abounds as does a pharmacy of medications routinely doled out to those experiencing everything from depression to hallucinations. It is commonplace and very hard for a layman to spot. How does one know if the noisy neighbor might just also be a psychopath?
So, who do we blame?
I suggest we blame the alleged killer, Adam Lanza, age 20. He was found dead at the scene and, as of this writing, he may have committed suicide or been dispatched by police. He’s dead. He’s left his mark and will become a Wikipedia entry.
Some who don’t own a gun will purchase one. The ladies prefer those small enough to fit in a purse. The men like something with some heft to it.
The only thing we know for sure is that we all feel less secure in our daily lives, whether going to a movie or leaving a child off at school.
© Alan Caruba, 2012