There are so many things I'd like to say about what happened in Newton today, but the whole thing is so emotionally taxing, and we say the same things again and again when "these things happen". We see these senseless tragedies again and again with a frightening rapidity. Ft Hood TX, Tuscon Az, Aurora CO, Happy Valley OR, and now Newton CT. All of these places saw senseless tragedy in the last four years, and have left us with a growing sense of doom and gloom. The worst part of it all is that nearly all of these incidents had clear warning signs that were clearly not heeded. Rather than run around and talk about how "Workplace Violence" is a bad thing, or we need to cultivate an "air of civility" or try to ban ammunition sales on the internet, let's turn and face the real problem. Us.
We see the warning signs, but never bring them up. Major Hassan gave a whole powerpoint briefing about how the US could not possibly win in Afghanistan, because Islam is a culture that embraces death. Right there most of us would hit the breaks and say "Woah! Is this a joke?" At the very least they should have put a closer watch on him. That he had absolutely horrible OERs and still got promoted should make a lot of people stop and ask what the hell happened.
Jarred Lee Loughner. . . you have only to look into this wacko's smiling face to know he's just not right in the head. He made a lot of people squirm, with things he said. It wasn't the "I'm awkward, but I'm trying" kind of off, its the "reach into your pocket for some mace" kind of creepy. People knew that he wasn't right. They even banned him from classes because he made people so uncomfortable. You mean to tell me no one thought that they should take this guy in? Hell just do a 4140 (72 hour forcible in-patient mental evaluation), if he's sane, they let him out, and there's no long term consequences. If he just so happens to be fruity as a nut-cake you DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
We should know by now that James Eagan Holmes, was a freaking nut case. If the orange hair and blank stare doesn't give him away, perhaps the fact that he told his shrink that he was going to kill someone should have had this guy in a strait jacket. I don't care if he was using a drum magazine (which only idiots use), or what firearms he was using, the simple fact that his shrink let him walk out of his office after he said that, should have us locking her up right beside him. There was not only the right to break patient confidentiality, but the moral duty to do so. Everything that transpired in Aurora could have been avoided with just ONE phone call.
I have no doubt that as details emerge on this latest shooting, we'll learn that yes in fact there were warning signs and someone probably had the right and the duty to act but did not. We'll probably find that at some point, some common sense measure could have been taken that would have prevented this, and at some point we will no doubt learn that there is a law already on the books which if it had actually been enforced, might have prevented yet another mass shooting. No doubt we as a nation will nod sagely at the things we should have done, then totally fail to take these things to heart, leading to yet one more asshole to commit another crime like this.
I am forced to admit that perhaps Bob Costas was right, after a fashion. The problem is cultural. We have so many people promoting the thug life, or this run and gun nonsense coming out of Hollywood, that people don't respect guns at all. They're not the deadly serious tool one uses for self protection, they are power incarnate. Our constant fear-mongering about guns has lead the weak and the maniacal to assume that a gun will give them the power and respect they so rightly deserve. People see guns as a quick way to instantly elevate themselves. In short it is the Nuclear Option without the restraint that MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) forces on one.
But more than that, American culture as a whole is in a state of slow decay. The Family, once the bedrock of America, is an afterthought, if that. People laugh and scoff at the idea that raising children can be one of the most noble endeavors one can set upon. We chase our pleasures at the expense of all else, heedless of the broken people we leave behind. We hold up shallow vapid celebrities as the exemplar when real heroes who fight and die "so others may live" are all but ignored. We watch the train wreck that is 16 & Pregnant, and never stop to wonder that that child's life is probably going to be horrible because his/her parents don't even know how to be adults. Had anyone of these shooter's families actually talked to their loved ones, and kept themselves apprised of their well being as families should, then perhaps the temptation to go postal might have been checked.
My greatest fear is that these mass shootings will occur with more and more frequency, as the hard data seems to suggest. Even if we were to outlaw guns tomorrow, I'm sure someone would make a homemade bomb, or run around with a knife or some other such insanity. The only reasonable, viable solution I can see is for America as a whole to take a good hard look in the mirror. We are strung out. We have forgotten what makes us great, or hell even a good nation. We need to teach our children how to love (not the free love variety) and how to form a bed rock in their lives. We can do some simple things, together as a nation, and things might start to get better, or we can keep doing what we're doing, and see where that gets us. In the end the choice is ours.