Yakima, Washington, December 16, 2012 -- A monster was loosed upon the children of a quiet hamlet in beautiful Fairfield County, Connecticut. It was a heinous crime that our language does not really have the words to describe. Twenty beautiful children and six devoted staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School were savagely destroyed by a one-time honor student turned monster. Why?
For the loved ones of those twenty-six murdered people, the question “Why?” has got to be burning in their minds and hearts like hot brandy iron. Why? Why would a person break into their school and take the lives of 20 children and 6 people he didn’t even know? Why would this sick, sadistic person be so enraged that he would, without speaking a word, gun-down young children, let alone other people? Why would this monster then take his own life?
Reams of paper and computer space have been devoted to this question of why. The true answer is, no one really knows. Some say it’s the gun laws. Others say it’s the video games. And, even others say there are no explanations for these types of incidents. It is small comfort to the loved-ones of the victims.
The elementary school had recently notified parents new security protocols had been implemented to make the school safer and more secure. The doors were locked each morning at 9:30 a.m. after which each visitor was visually identified over a video monitoring system. This system was in-place the morning of the shooting.
The 20 year old shooter, identified as Adam Lanza, a former honors student at the local high school, forced his way into the school by breaking out a door window and then opening the door. He was wearing military style gear and a mask as he proceeded to kill anyone he came into contact.
It maybe the new system, while it didn’t stop the killer, may have slowed him enough to reduce the number of lives he destroyed?
The answer to this question will never be fully known. What is known is the Principle was able to turn on the inter-com a split second before being killed by the gunman. This act of heroism enabled a well-trained staff to protect many of their children thus reducing the causalities. The fast response of authorities is also credited with reducing the number of lives lost.
The town of Newton will come together and heal with time. For the parents and loved-ones of the victims, a hole will remain in their hearts for the rest of their lives. No words, no actions, and no beliefs will ever fill those gapping wounds. With time, a scar will appear, never to disappear. And, the question of “Why?” will remain.
The simple answer is terrible. No one knows why. No one can give these parents an answer. The question needs to be, “What can we do in the future to hopefully prevent these occurrences?”
Let’s put aside one argument immediately. Guns do not kill people. People kill people. That is a simple, sobering truth. In China, where gun control is high, people have committed mass murder in schools with knifes. Let’s not add another layer of complex laws to an already over-burden gun control system.
There are notable characteristics between these mass shootings that need to be considered. First, in most of the shooting, the perpetrator was young, usually in his early twenties. Second, most of the perpetrators wore military style clothing or clothing that mimic dress seen in action movies and games. Third, a broken home of some type was found in the perpetrators background. Fourth, these attackers have display some type of abnormal behavior such as being withdrawn, having hallucinations, or being psychotic.
Often times, these perpetrators live with a person who try to shelter them from the real world and attempt to deal with their problem in secret.
The question of what can we do seemingly becomes one of how do we get these people into mental health programs that deal realistically with the person. Today, and for the last several years, less money is being spent on in-patient mental health facilities with the emphasis being on out-patient treatment. Often times we don’t lockup people who are a threat to our safety due to the high fiscal cost.
Is Columbine, Virginia Tech, Colorado, and, now, Sandy Hook Elementary the price we pay for reducing our spending on mental health in-patient care?
(Larry Momo writes columns for the Washington Times CommunitySection and the San Pedro News Pilot. Curmudgeon Corner is found at http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/curmudgeon-corner/ .)