Those left behind are going through hell right now.
Anytime something terrible happens that ripples throughout the nation and world, words spoken and written about it just seem hollow. Such is the case with Friday's massacre in Newtown, Conn., where 20-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire in an elementary school, killing 20 children and five adults. That's in addition to murdering his mother prior to heading to the school and taking the coward's way out by putting a bullet in himself as soon as he knew the gig was up.
Nevertheless, I'm giving it a go, attempting to put in words what's been on my mind since first hearing about the incident Friday afternoon. There are a few things about this whole thing I just can't keep inside.
• The media frenzy following the shooting was, unfortunately, very typical. As soon as the nearby news media outlets got wind of it, their reporters swarmed in as close to the scene of the crime at Sandy Hook Elementary School that they were allowed to be. News reports were flying in at record pace on websites, TV and radio. The bad news also traveled extensively via word of mouth. By 5 p.m., when most workers on the day shift leave work, scarcely a person in the United States hadn't heard at least something about the horrific incident.
Now, this wouldn't be so bad if the whole thing was reported correctly, but since when does that ever happen. The initial reports said the shooter's mother was a teacher at the school, but no proof of this was found. The shooter was identified as 24-year-old Ryan Lanza by "an anonymous source" from the police department who "was not allowed to comment publicly on the matter."
Well, as it turned out, the killer was not Ryan but his younger brother, Adam. Ryan ended up defending himself on Facebook, saying "It wasn't me," a mantra he had to repeat to over and over again to law enforcement and the press this dealing with the shock of losing his mother and brother to such violence and the fact that his brother is a mass child killer.
There's a reason why these "official" folks are instructed not to speak about a case. It would surprise me a bit if the law enforcement agency here is sued for its employees' poor judgement and for ruining the surviving brother's life.
• Of course both sides of the gun control issue are using this to strengthen their position, as is the case every time these mass shootings occur. The right-to-bear-arms folks maintain that if the teachers and/or others in the school were allowed to carry weapons, it never would have happened. Gun control advocates argue that it never would have happened if the country had stricter laws.
Oh really? Is anyone other than the Big Guy Upstairs really qualified to predict, after the fact, what would have happened if certain variables came into play?
Although I personally believe there should be a little more gun control than there is (but not too much), I would be fooling myself by saying this would unequivocally solve the problem. I also know that every incident involving misuse of a gun is as unique as those involved are, whether it be a four-year-old accidentally killing his two-year-old brother, a grandfather accidentally shooting his granddaughter thinking she was an intruder, an oft-robbed man snapping and killing intruders to his home, a pair randomly opening fire upon people on the street or a well-armed teen blasting away at a school. So to even surmise that a particular gun incident could have been prevented if only such and such were in place is just plain wrong.
That's not to say we can't learn from these tragic happenings. Experts right now are analyzing the heck out of the shooter's and his family's lives, the events precipitating the shooting and every little thing that may or may not have influenced the situation. There will be a report, no doubt, that guestimates what went through Adam Lanza's head in days and moments leading up to the massacre, as well as some recommendations for future prevention of such incidents.
These sorts of things will, unfortunately, continue to occur, but if we can somehow prevent some from being implemented, at least some lives would be saved. How to do this? That's a really good question with very few answers.
• It's almost sickening the way the social media gets bogged down with stuff about the shooting. I don't mind the philosophical, personal comments some of my friends made, but when everyone keeps posting all these canned photos, prayers and such that are totally impersonal, it's too much. Acknowledge the tragedy, but don't go overboard. It becomes desensitized then.
With that, all I can say is that the families of all the victims, including the shooter, are going through hell right now and at about the worse possible time. It wouldn't hurt to keep them in our prayers.