It’s impossible to imagine the shock, horror, sadness and revulsion that enveloped the city of Newtown Connecticut after spree killer Adam Lanza massacred 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Newtown is a white upper middle class suburb, a 45-minute commute to New Haven. “This sort of thing doesn’t happen here.” Statistically speaking, that’s true. But it did happen there. And just like survivors of atrocity throughout history and around the globe, the people left in the wake of the Sandy Hook slaughter have had to cope with the aftermath of unthinkable violence. Their initial reaction was the same as the NRA’s . . .
Assign armed police to the town’s elementary schools.
Newtown had already placed school resource officers (SROs) in its middle and upper schools. Never mind barn doors and bolted horses. Given the scope and scale of what had befallen the murdered innocents, why not extend this armed “shield” of vigilance over Newtown’s youngest students?
It was, of course, an entirely logical course of action: protect what remains. What if a copycat killer came to “finish the job”? The unthinkable was now thinkable. No one in the town—or elsewhere—questioned the cops’ new responsibilities.
The move was as much psychological as it was strategic. The police presence reassured children that they would not suffer the same cataclysmic attack that decimated their peers. It also provided a buffer from the media circus that had descended on their town. It was a signal to both townspeople and the outside world that Newtown would, as the NRA puts it, refuse to be a victim.
As the days went by, Newtown’s gestalt began to change. The search for “answers” shifted focus. Residents couldn’t blame the school for its lack of security. They couldn’t blame the doctors, educators, administrators, classmates, neighbors, associates and acquaintances who let a psychotic killer slip through the net. That would be tantamount to blaming themselves.
Equally, they couldn’t blame Adam Lanza. His father was a successful tax executive at GE Energy Financial Service. Adam attended Sandy Hook Elementary, just five miles from the family home. He was an honors student at Newtown High. He was odd, sure, but he was one of them. A local.
And so those closest to the tragedy chose to blame the gun: the Bushmaster AR-15 Lanza used to commit his heinous crime. And the laws that “allowed” Lanza access to the firearm—despite the fact that such laws were already in place and that he’d murdered his mother to violate them.
The post-traumatic enthusiasm for civilian disarmament amongst those closest to the killings didn’t raise any uncomfortable questions about the town’s residents, schools or its safety systems. There wasn’t any pushback. Not from fellow residents. Or the media. Or the nation. How could it? What right do YOU have to tell ME what I should do about MY loss? Not “even” the NRA would dare question their possession of [what they perceive to be] the moral high ground.
The effort to “prevent” another Newtown put gun control-minded residents into a positive feedback loop. The more they agitated for gun control the less they had to face the truth about their vulnerability and failure. And the more attention and approval they received—to the point where the President of the United States flew Newtown’s worst-afflicted on Air Force One to continue their anti-gun lobbying campaign.
And then the town suffered their second “loss.” The U.S. Senate rejected the bills that would have vindicated—if that’s the right word—their unfathomable loss. As draconian as they are, Connecticut’s post-Newtown disarmament laws must have seemed like cold comfort.
And here’s the thing: the town has completely lost track of the reality of what happened. And the necessity of armed self-defense. To wit this [via wtnh.com]:
Just four months after the Sandy Hook tragedy, Newtown voters have rejected a new budget plan that would have put more security officers in local schools.
It would have cost taxpayers an additional $770,000, but local residents said no.
Less than the price of one trip to Washington on the President’s 747. And then this [via courant.com]:
A new Sandy Hook Elementary School building will be built at the site of the existing school, a task force of town leaders decided Friday night.
The school, at a cost of almost $60 million, will take the place of the old building, where a mass shooting Dec. 14 took the lives of 26 children and educators . . .
Rob Sibley, the town’s deputy planning director, rubbed his eyes after the meeting. He was a first responder to the school with Sandy Hook’s fire company. He has twins in kindergarten and a third-grader at the school. His wife happened to be visiting the school as gunfire echoed through the halls.
“It certainly opens the door to a path toward healing that was not there before,” Sibley said about the task force decision. “It doesn’t detract from the grief we feel on a daily basis.”
The story doesn’t include any mention of the security set-up for the new school. None. Nor does it say if the budget for the new school includes funding for an armed security guard. But it does repeatedly touch upon the emotional fallout from the killing that will forever be associated with the name Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The last time the committee met, many members emerged from a private session visibly shaken by the harrowing stories they heard from Sandy Hook teachers about their experiences on Dec. 14 and afterward.
At that point, members questioned whether Sandy Hook employees — or anyone — could be expected to return to the site where 26 people were murdered.
This is what you call victim mentality. It’s vastly different from the mindset of the New Yorkers who vowed to rebuild the World Trade Center site almost immediately after 9/11. Who have done so.
As TTAG commentator Dr. Vino pointed out, mentally damaged people develop strange symbolic associations and need irrational symbolic gestures. Even so, Newtown’s failure to grasp the nettle, to fully address practical and tactical issues surrounding the attack, shows a collective failure of nerve. An abject surrender of logic for emotional.
The real answer here is simple enough: eliminate “gun-free zones.” Encourage armed self-defense. We, the People, should be ready, willing and able to defend ourselves and our loved ones against evil when and wherever it appears. For it is always there. No matter what.
Sad to say, the shell-shocked members of Newtown’s newly formed civilian disarmament community will never come to the same conclusion. But the rest of us can. And should.