The massacre at Sandy Hook, just like those before it at Columbine and Aurora, are heartrending chapters in American society that have left many searching for answers and solutions to what seems like an epidemic unique only to the United States — shooting sprees carried out in seemingly indiscriminate fashion by deeply disturbed individuals, or rather, kids. While a troubling trend to say the least, consider it alongside the daily mass-murder, bombings, shootings, and other savage attacks waged by terrorists against innocents across the Middle East and Africa on a daily basis. While people cite religious extremism as the motivation in these instances, others would argue that they are equally wrought in nothing more than mental illness and a penchant for evil and destruction.
At the end of the day, we still try to rationalize and heal the wounds in whatever ways we know how. Thus, people reactively look to gun control as the obvious answer.
While it may be an unpopular viewpoint, it is not entirely unreasonable to think that the nation’s gun laws can be reformed without shredding the U.S. Constitution or stripping away Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Oftentimes, these tragedies were not entirely unforeseeable. After all, Adam Lanza’s mother seemed rather vocal about her son’s disturbance, yet she herself was not a pillar of mental or emotional stability. After all, why would she bring her son, who she clearly believed to be disturbed, to shooting ranges to help him hone his skill? And why would she leave a firearm within his reach? It is safe to say she is in some ways as accountable as her son — perhaps even more so.
But what about the deeper issue at play? All of the weapons bans in the world will do naught to change our culture’s morbid obsession with death and violence. Perhaps we, as a society, should look to the fact that impressionable young minds are given unfettered access to music, movies, television programs and video-games that glorify carnage on a regular basis.
Of course our First Amendment rights give filmmakers, writers, music-makers and videogame creators the freedom to produce works containing violent themes just like we have the freedom to consume them (or not). But how do films like “Saw” and “Hostel” really contribute to society? Why has the bar of stimulus been set so high, and at such a depraved level? Have we not desensitized ourselves and our children to what is nothing more than barbarism?
Sure, normal, everyday people are not going to commit unspeakable acts simply for having listened to rap music or for watching the latest slasher-film, but that is not to say there aren’t longterm societal effects brought to bear by what we, ourselves, condone (sometimes unwittingly) each and every day.
As the sun goes down American innocence it is safe to assume that those who committed the unspeakable acts of barbarism against their fellow man in the Columbine, Aurora, and now Newtown tragedies, would have found a way to wreak their havoc come hell or high water, whether assault weapons had been banned or not. Consider the fact that the average person can procure a gun on the streets of New York City — where Mayor Bloomberg has made it essentially impossible for one to obtain a legal gun permit — through its black-market in the blink of an eye. When one is bent on causing harm, it is difficult to imagine small details such as the legality of gun ownership standing in his or her way.
While the U.S. suffers its share of violence, it is vastly different from the level and types of violence witnessed in other parts of the world. Thus, we apply our own subjective views and societal norms when attempting to make sense of incidents like Sandy Hook. In the end, however, what sense can ever be found in the senseless? In our civilized society, atrocities like this are not supposed to happen — certainly not by one of “our own.” We live in nation that enjoys much freedom, so is it entirely implausible that those very freedoms may, at times, be abused and perverted?
While catalysts may differ, in the end, isn’t evil enacted simply motivated by evil?