As the horrifying and evolving details of the Connecticut school shooting unfold, there is an unavoidable swing between the growing shock and grief we’re all feeling and the outrage that metastasizes as yet another mass shooting occurs within a one-week period. After the Portland mall shooting on Tuesday, we all felt the responding anger, all the more tragic when viewed against the cheer and joy of the holiday shopping season.
But that tragedy – horrible though it was – has now been dwarfed by the sheer numbers of dead in Connecticut: 27 and counting, 18 of them grade school children. There can be few in this world not profoundly saddened by the loss of so many lives, a tragedy multiplied by the age and innocence of the majority of the victims. The ripple effect of how this will impact the many families, friends, neighbors, fellow Americans, even global citizens, is incalculable.
The term “gun control advocate,” it seems, can no longer fit the scope of these multiplying tragedies. Today’s shooting was a massacre, by all accounts and definitions, and as Michael Tomasky points out in his Daily Beast article, “The Shooting,” it’s time to re-frame the debate. He writes that Huff Po’s Ryan Grim has posted a Tweet about those organizing under – sadly – a more accurate moniker, “Anti-Massacre Activists”:
UPDATE: I just saw a tweet from HuffPo’s Ryan Grim that read: “Gun control advocates — or anti-massacre activists — will be holding a direct-action protest at the White House at 4:30 today.” That’s good. Anti-massacre activists. That’s a name-change I wholly endorse. We are living through a slaughter. The Washington Post noted this afternoon that of the 12 deadliest attacks in US history, six–six–have occured in the last five years. We are living in an era of slaughter. I admit to having thrown up my own hands against the NRA, arguing that they have too much power and it wasn’t worth the risk to take them on. I’m done with that. We’re living in a fucking abatoir, now drenched in the blood of little children. We have to do something.
While some believe this is not the time to talk about gun control, not everyone agrees. David Frum at The Daily Beast writes in an article titled “Every Day is the Day to Talk About Gun Control”:
A permissive gun regime is not the only reason that the United States suffers so many atrocities like the one in Connecticut. An inadequate mental health system is surely at least as important a part of the answer, as are half a dozen other factors arising from some of the deepest wellsprings of American culture.
Nor can anybody promise that more rational gun laws would prevent each and every mass murder in this country. Gun killings do occur even in countries that restrict guns with maximum severity.
But we can say that if the United States worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be many, many fewer atrocities like the one in Connecticut.
Clearly the debate lies within the many layers and elements of both the mental health and gun control conversations. And while today we are reeling in shock, stunned by grief, and steeling ourselves for more tragic details to be revealed, those conversations must be had. Candidly, with depth and an unvarnished willingness to look at ALL the elements and angles, without spin or partisanship. Our children, our families and our fellow citizens are being massacred. There’s no other word for it. And that we must talk about, until every single, painful, difficult, complex and challenging thing has been said.
Then we must act.
[NOTE: The protest Ryan Grim tweeted about is in the works with details unfolding. If you'd like to stay in the loop on this, check with the Democratic Underground site for details.]