Any attempts to explain the horrible event at Sandy Hook Elementary today will – for a long time – come across as pat, as superficial and insensitive, as hubristic in the face of the inexplicable. Jeff Dunetz at Yid with Lid asks, “Dear God: How did you let this happen????” Mark Galli, at Christianity Today, says the slain in Connecticut “are not alone, nor without hope.” He acknowledges that “It is a mystery why God allows the innocent to suffer. But he does.”
Yet what are the parents of the slain children to do with that? – or the husbands and mothers and children of the slain adults, whose families have been rent asunder? In the face of such grief – such brutality unjustly assailing the spirit – what can anyone say that will make a difference? What good are words at such a time?
Mary Katherine Ham and Allahpundit have been updating this unfolding horror at Hot Air throughout the day. The shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, reportedly used his mother’s legally purchased and registered handguns to kill her in her home, and then drove to Sandy Hook, burst in on the school principal, started an argument, and killed 20 young children and 7 adults (including the principal). Police comments early in the day have suggested that another slain adult, discovered in a separate location, may be related to the Lanza killings – and that Lanza’s girlfriend is missing.
Neighbors have told reporters that Adam Lanza, who killed himself at the school, was peculiar, and perhaps suffered from a psychological disorder. Allahpundit had this to say:
Ace is right that the typical mass murderer is a mentally-ill sad-sack loser who’s bad at work, bad with women, and who finally snaps in frustration at his own momentous loserdom.
True enough; and there may have been a real disorder making it even more likely that Adam Lanza would lose judgment and self-control. The world can never be made safe enough for people in this condition to live with complete independence. We will learn in the coming days what Lanza’s state actually was. There are presumably a number of people who know. Although his mother is gone, he appears to have a father and two brothers still living.
There will be a political debate also in the coming days, as there must and should be. Gun-restriction advocates will insist that new laws must be made (although Connecticut has some of the tightest restrictions in the country, and Mrs. Lanza was in full compliance with them). Gun-rights advocates will point out that Adam Lanza had psychological problems, and that the rights of the majority must not be restricted in the way that may be appropriate for the impaired. If it emerges that Adam Lanza was known to have dangerous anti-social tendencies, others will make the case that as a society, we have toolaissez-faire an attitude toward the psychologically impaired.
It matters how all the rest of us will live, or be required to live, in the aftermath of this awful incident. Every bit of the political debate will be necessary and appropriate. Not one syllable of it will be inherently thoughtless or cruel toward the victims. We govern ourselves, and we are entitled to debate, advocate for, and oppose any policy moves suggested in the coming weeks. More than entitled, we are responsible for doing this, and we will be accountable if we don’t. Policy must not be made precipitately, based on sentiment or emotion; hundreds of millions of Americans have to live with whatever policies are made, and law must be rational and enforceable if it is to be respected.
So we will have the debate. The opening arguments have already burst out on both sides of the issue. For tonight, however, our thoughts and prayers must be with the bereaved families, who have already had their last hugs, their last hellos and goodbyes, with the ones they loved – though when this morning dawned, they did not know it.
Her home blog is The Optimistic Conservative.