A few thoughts on the Connecticut tragedy

An awful tragedy unfolded this weekend in the US.

Yesterday I watched US President Barack Obama’s emotional tribute to the victims of the Connecticut shooting. Please pause with me a moment, as you read this, to think of the victims, and their friends and families.

I have to ask – why does the US have so many shootings? CBS report thirteen multiple shooting incidents in 2012 alone. And the US is the most heavily armed country in the world, apparently with 0.88 privately owned firearms per capita in 2007, four times what we have in New Zealand.

Here in New Zealand, the number of multiple-killing gun incidents in our entire history can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Very rare, though in one of the confluences of bad luck that dog my life, one occurred in my home town, the gunman within rifle range of my former family home.

What is it that makes people “snap” – and reach for a gun? What happened to talking? Being reasonable?

Looking in from outside, it seems to me that the right to ‘bear arms’ is an emotional issue for the US; it cannot be discussed without becoming politicised, emotionalised, fraught – involved. Other countries have their own sacred cows,  equally as fraught, equally as emotional. Don’t get me started on New Zealand’s. Yet it seems to me that until all these issues can be disengaged from emotional entanglements, they are going to be hard to tackle.

Yet, when you look at what’s happening, surely the onus is on people to try? To talk? To step back, take a breath…and be reasonable?

Life is precious.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012

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4 comments on “A few thoughts on the Connecticut tragedy

  1. I’m afraid that in tragedies such as happened this weekend, that “reason” was left behind long ago. This type of heinous action is bred from a self-centered self-righteous insanity that flourishes in those with too soft of a lifestyle they never had to earn, These people would find a way to carry out their self-perceived “missions” no matter what. I think this type of sickness is rooted in a lack of human values. If the can’t buy a gun, they’ll rig some kind of homemade explosive. It deeply saddens me that this Has become a trend in this nation.

    • Indeed, there is no such thing as ‘reason’ in these madmen; and they seem able to commit atrocities of the worst kind without compunction. Not only that, but most of them take the coward’s way out and so cannot be held to account for their crimes in a court of law.

  2. Elisa Nuckle says:

    This is a tough subject for me, as I grew up with rather, uh, conservative Southern extended family who value gun rights and see them as a God-given freedom. It’s scary how easy it is to get higher powered firearms here, and while I’m not sure more regulations would prevent this kind of incident (like someone else said, the person might fashion homemade weapons anyway), it certainly makes it simple for a would-be shooter to get all they need.

    That being said I’m not sure how to fix that and please both sides, those that demand more regulations and those that want more freedoms. All I know is I hate coming home to news like that, and I wish we had a lot less incidents.

    This one is especially hard because most of the victims were so young. I can’t imagine what type of person could ever do that.

    • It’s not the news one wants to come home to – and, indeed, what sort of person can shoot children in cold blood? It’s the kind of appalling thing we associate with Nazi war crimes!

      I think Elizabeth’s right that those who’re determined enough will find ways to commit their crimes. New Zealand has very strict gun control laws, but that didn’t stop the lunatic who held my home town up in 2009 from having a stash of illegal firearms, home-made booby traps and (it was rumoured) a cache of stolen explosives. All this within gun-range of my parents’ house, incidentally. But he was unique; there had been nothing quite like it in NZ’s history previously.

      But I like your point that guns make it easier. I think there are spur-of-the-moment crimes that are also facilitated because a gun’s to hand. We don’t have firearms, but we get a lot of hittings and stabbings which I guess fall into that ‘spur of the moment’ category.

      Sigh! If only people were nice to each other. Sounds naive, given the true complexities of the human condition…but it IS such a simple thing to do.

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