Sandy Hook Shootings: Who Are We Supposed to Be Mad At?
Sandy Hook Shootings: Who Are We Supposed to Be Mad At?
Posted by Tracy Moore
Reading the responses across the Internet to the horrific Connecticut elementary school massacre, which as of this writing, has led to the deaths of 27 people, 18 of whom are children, and it’s clear that we, as a nation, are not exactly sure who we should be mad at. Hollywood? Washington? Fox News? The NRA? The schools? Angry white men? The lack of mental healthcare access? All of the above? Because just being mad at the disturbed man who did it doesn’t feel like enough. That leaves us as powerless bystanders in an increasingly familiar nightmare.

As the details pour out, it feels like déjà vu: The young, angry white man, the innocent children, the terror, the powerlessness and frenzy the parents feel, the mental block and deep, deep sadness of all the rest of us trying to process unimaginable horror. And then, the desperate pleas from average citizens to stop making this such a terribly easy crime to commit.

A few randomly plucked comments from this New York Times initial report on the massacre give you an idea of the general feeling:

Suspend the constitution, conduct door-to-door searches of EVERY private residence in the United States and confiscate ALL guns – YES, rifles too!

And then melt them ALL down.

We need to restrict movies, TV, and video games that glorify violence.

Do any of you honestly believe that there could have been anything done by this sleepy, little Connecticut town to prevent something like this from ever happening? 

Connecticut is already among the top five states with the most strict gun control laws, among the lowest for gun crime, and yet something like this still happened. The fact is that the man was a killer and if someone ever crosses a threshold to kill on a scale as this man had, then they would find a way to do it.

First the horror, then the compassion for the victims, the families.
Then the rage against a people for whom having and using guns is a national pastime.
How many senseless killings will it takes for the nation to awaken and revolt against the barbaric NRA type neanderthals running amok in the streets of America.

Every incidence of a shooting in a public place makes me more and more frustrated that we can’t have a serious political discussion about guns.

I feel such sadness for the children and their families, yet this is overridden by my anger at the NRA.

It’s really sad that it’s easier for a crazy person to buy a gun than it is to get proper mental healthcare.

What is the tipping point? When will Americans love their children more than they love their guns? How much more? How many more?

Everyone is right to one degree or another. But the answers to those questions, are, of course by now, 31 school shootings later, quite familiar: We are not supposed to talk about policies, but people, pundits and politicians remind us. We are not supposed to blame access to guns, but rather, the unstable individuals who purchase them for harm. We are not supposed to be mad at Hollywood, but rather, the people who cannot tell the difference between real life and the glamorized fantasy portrayed on screen. And we are not supposed to blame those angry, unstable young men, but rather, a mental healthcare system that failed them.

The problem is, none of that gets us any closer to an action to take, a plan to implement. Doing nothing is no longer an option, a frustration now part and parcel of the coverage of these events.

If we simply accept this kind of violence as the new normal, then what? Schools are more than just a vulnerable population of innocents — they are, for some people, symbols of their earliest exposure to the cruelty of fellow humans, badges for their failures, some of their first experiences with alienation, marginalization and the judgment of others.

For the mentally unstable, that symbol has proven to be a particularly irresistible outlet for revenge fantasies. Isn’t it time we regarded schools as the same vulnerable target as airplanes? Why are they not among our nation’s top-guarded entities? Because we simply cannot accept that they are no longer innocent places?

If we will not implement gun control, and will not make mental health a universal, destigmatized resource, then the least we can do is protect the most obvious targets of the mentally unstable people who commit these crimes. Because otherwise, our only choice is to become as jaded to this terrorism as we have to every other “unsolvable” issue in this country, i.e., issue at which we have reached another political, partisan impasse: homelessness, poverty, immigration, sexism, racism. Remember? There was a time all those things floored us too, when all those things seemed like unspeakable horrors. And their continued presence in our every day lives is the price we pay for our complacency.

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