I did not want to write about Newtown this week. But no other topic seems appropriate. Our state is in mourning. We are still in shock. We have neighbors struggling with unspeakable pain.
Because this state is small, there are few degrees of separation between any one of us and those directly harmed. As I watched the news unfold on TV in a local coffee shop far from Newtown, I learned that a neighbor who was working the breakfast counter had a sister with a child at that school, a child kept home that day due to illness. She already knew her niece was safe, she said. But I imagine such families will be grappling with the emotional difficulties associated with survival — with being lucky.
I will not join in a gun control debate right now. Having seen the Law Tribune’s Editorial Board rush into publication an editorial, with the admitted aim of pushing for legislative measures while “public outrage” is still hot, I use this week’s column to suggest all refrain from so immediate an exploitation of this tragedy for political purposes, to defer their demands to another day, to recognize the moment we are in; in others words, to display some class. I expect this request to be futile, but it should be made nonetheless.
The tragedy is only days old. The bodies of the murdered children had not even been removed from the school before those who have long clamored for more gun control were, as such people will do, hopping on their soapboxes. Please relieve us of your rhetoric, at least for now. Have some respect and display some decency.
The Law Tribune’s board will not wait for any facts, preferring to make simple-minded claims that fewer guns will lead to fewer shootings. I will not here speak to how wrong that is. I only express dismay at the board’s own acknowledgement that it wants to take advantage of public emotions, that is, to seek new laws with legislative hot heads.
Had Adam Lanza been captured alive, some would have immediately exploited “public outrage,” except their purpose would have been to ridicule and attack Governor Dannel Malloy for abolishing the death penalty, with no thought to whether such soap-boxing was appropriate while Malloy was moving from funeral to funeral, using his status as governor of this state (appropriately, I might add) to symbolize the solidarity of its people in sympathy for those who suffered unimaginable losses.
I think Governor Malloy has done everything right. He made a decision to dispense with regulations that had kept parents standing there for too many hours, unaware of their losses and bearing false hope. He broke the news to them. That gut-wrenching experience perhaps explains why the governor, while briefly acknowledging that this event will require a discussion about gun laws, understands that such is all that should be said at this time. He is busy attending funerals.
Liberal reporters from the mainstream media banged on the doors of the NRA, baiting its leaders, demanding an immediate public statement. They blared headlines that the “NRA has gone silent.” Knee-jerk, reactionary statements about gun control based on ignorance are tactless and unhelpful, as are calls for incarceration of the mentally ill. Many who clamor for immediate measures know nothing about guns. Those who do possess the needed knowledge will help in the policy debate — at the appropriate time — and offer facts and data that will, hopefully, prevent anti-Second Amendment zealots from trampling the rights of law-abiding citizens.
We saw this happen immediately upon the shootings in Arizona, which left several dead and Congresswoman Gabby Giffords grievously wounded. Within minutes, countless left-wing politicos took to the airwaves suggesting the killer was provoked to violence by “Tea Party” rhetoric, going so far as to suggest Sarah Palin’s web site was a factor. This was utter nonsense, yet President Barack Obama used a memorial service for the victims to suggest there was substance to it.
They all struck while the iron was hot, lock-stepping to the damnable political tenet that no crisis should go to waste. Even when it became obvious that the killer had schizophrenia and whose violence could not rationally be linked to political discourse, these partisans would not stop. They will not let facts get in their way. They are shameless.
Put your politics on hold. Reach out and touch the shoulder of someone connected to this tragedy. Contribute to one of the ongoing charitable efforts to assist the Newtown community. We faced a stomach-turning notice from that faux church (I will not give print to its name) whose members use funerals to bring attention to their bizarre beliefs. A New York City firefighters’ group organized volunteers to help body-surround such protestors so they will not be visible to grieving families. Others are helping provide Newtown teachers with school supplies needed to resume classes. Some drove long hours to Newtown, bringing such thoughtful aids as comfort dogs, kids’ toys and even pies. These are meaningful gestures with concrete benefits, appropriate to the moment. •