I lived in a town called Newtown. Connecticut.

no-words

“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.”
-Thomas Merton

First things first, there are no words. There is simply nothing that can begin to describe the horror that took place yesterday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. My love, thoughts and prayers are with every person impacted. Which is to say my love, thoughts and prayers are with every single human being because, from where I sit, if you can’t feel the pain of this you’re simply not human.

I, along with probably 97% of the blogosphere, am going to now try and attempt to write about the tragedy that took place yesterday in Connecticut.

In a past life, I had spent the better part of ten years living in and around Newtown. I know the area. I used to know the people and I doubt they have changed too much. So, the newscasters and press people who describe it as bucolic are correct. Trust me, it is rare day that I find myself completely agreeing with anyone in mass media.

You don’t know this because you are reading it but I’ve just spent the past ten minutes starring at this blank sheet trying to describe Newtown…and I can’t. Right now the only thing I can think about are things I would rather not think about. My memories of Newtown are simply shattered and my feelings are off center. I remain hopeful that my memories will return and my fondness for that area will be even stronger as I know I will be blessed watching the residents of Newtown, and the surrounding towns, come together and show the rest of the world that, over time, love and a true sense of brotherhood and community can heal even the most inexplicable horror.

There have been a handful of things that have happened in my lifetime that have had a profound impact on me and it pains me to add this one to an already painful list. But lest this turn into some sort of self-aggrandizing piece, let me say emphatically, I don’t play into this. I don’t live there. I don’t have children. I don’t know anyone who lost a child. But that in no way means I am devoid of empathy. I believe we’re all connected somehow, someway and the absolute horror that took place and what must be going through the minds of the parents of those children, both those that died and those that lived, usurps anything about me…or about you. At times I feel it has become an American tradition to personalize every tragedy, let’s not do it here. At least not today or tomorrow. Not for awhile. Say a prayer, light a candle, take a moment of silence, do whatever you feel is appropriate for those families and that community that have been impacted by this heinous act.

If this atrocity doesn’t spark real and definitive gun control reform at best, and debate at least, then I become ever more frightened for the future of our nation.

Here are some facts worth noting:

  • The United States ranks first in gun ownership across the globe. Roughly 88% of all Americans own a gun. (1)
  • The United States ranks fifth in the world for homicides by gun. (1)
  • During the 2010 election cycle, the NRA spent more than $7.2 million on independent expenditures at the federal level on messages advocating for or against political candidates. (2)
  • American children are twelve times more likely to die from gun injuries than are youngsters in other industrialized nations. (3)
  • There is a loophole in The Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act that allows unlicensed gun dealers to sell guns without doing a background check. This loophole accounts for 40% of all gun sales. (4)
  • According to ATF reports, in 2010 there were 5,459,240 new firearms manufactured in the United States, nearly all (95 percent) for the U.S. market.   An additional 3,252,404 firearms were imported to the United States. (5)
  • In 2010 the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) ran 16,454,951 background checks for firearms purchases.  Only a small number of these purchases 78,211 or 0.48 percentwere denied.(5)

There are very simple and proactive things we can do to work towards better gun control (close that damn loophole in the Brady Bill for one…WTF?) that won’t get the National Rifle Association all in a snit. But look, one can go on and on with statistics and, in all fairness, I could be met by someone with an opposing view and their own statistics but that’s not the point. Whether you are way right or way left, whether you are for or against guns, let me ask you this: If the senseless slaughter of 20 children and having the innocence ripped away from an incalculable number of other children is not enough to open a thoughtful and forward thinking discourse about REAL gun control, exactly what does it take?

Again, my love, thoughts and prayers are with every person impacted. Which is to say my love, thoughts and prayers are with every single human being because, from where I sit, if you can’t feel the pain of this you’re simply not human.

– Keith

NOTE: I think it is worth noting that as of 10:15am December 15, the NRA has no comment on what took place.
That seems neither American nor human to me.

Sources
1- Guardian UK, 22 July, 2012.
2- http://tinyurl.com/cvbb5ja
3- http://tinyurl.com/bv5yswn (PDF file)
4- http://tinyurl.com/7j3rap6   (PDF file)
5- http://tinyurl.com/8n2fowy

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