Sunday, December 16, 2012


We don’t know why a disturbed young man went to a Connecticut elementary school last Friday morning and committed unpardonable crimes. We may never know what triggered his mind to reject the instinctive taboo against harming a child that is hardwired into the human soul.

We cannot fully grasp the suffering of the survivors. Our hearts break for the parents who should be shopping for toys, but are instead buying coffins for their children. There are no words to express our sympathy; there is no way to assuage their grief.

We are angry because shooting rampages seem to be occurring more frequently. Experts, however, contend that the number of mass shootings in America has been relatively steady for the past few decades. Our 24/7 news cycle and hyperconnectedness just makes us more aware of these horrors.

Above all, we don’t ever want this to happen again. At first blush, banning all guns seems to be the answer. A worldwide news digest on Friday included a piece about a man in China who wounded 22 children with a knife. Okay, let’s ban knives too, just in case.
Fists were the weapon that injured a Goochland teacher in a recent incident in the parking lot of the high school.
The common denominator in most of these situations seems to be mental health issues. Some of the perpetrators have gotten “help” in the form of anti-psychotic medications; others may have had some contact with mental health professionals with mixed results. Still others hover like bombs waiting to go off.
How do we, as a free society, protect ourselves those who may pose danger to the community without impinging on their rights? Who gets to decide if someone poses a threat? Who is liable for the havoc wreaked when one of these troubled people--who seem to be mostly young, bright, white men—fall through the cracks?
Do we lock all quiet loners and hyperactive kids up in mental hospitals? How much will that cost, and who will pay? Suspending rights of those deemed to be unable to function in society is a slippery slope.
The questions are many. The answers are few. This long overdue discussion must begin now.
Banning guns will not end mass killings; it will only change the methodology.
We all want to find a way to make this evil stop forever, but acting in haste is not the answer.
Pray for all of the bereaved in Connecticut and pray that the person planning the next incident will find help before it is too late.

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