“What is it going to take to stop the craziness of gun violence in this country? How young do the victims have to be and how many children need to die before we stop the proliferation of guns in our nation? We can’t just talk about it and then do nothing until the next shooting when we will profess shock again.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is based in Newtown and is the trade association for the firearms industry, issued a very brief statement: “Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this horrible tragedy in our community. Out of respect for the families, the community and the ongoing police investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment or participate in media requests at this time.”
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said, “The horror of this day seems so unbearable, but we will lock arms and unite as citizens, for that is how Americans rise above unspeakable evil.”
Around midday, soon after the news broke, the president’s press secretary, Jay Carney, declined to get into gun control when he addressed the press corps:
“There is, I’m sure — will be, rather — a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I don’t think today is that day.”
The president came into the press room later in the afternoon and kept his remarks apolitical, speaking as a father.
“The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old,” Obama said, and then he paused for 12 seconds, seemingly trying to avoid choking up. “They had their entire lives ahead of them, birthdays, graduations, weddings” — he quickly wiped away a tear — “kids of their own.”
Every massacre is different, except for the central feature of the killer’s indifference to the suffering of the innocent. In China, hours before the Connecticut attack, a man with a knife assaulted and wounded 22 children and one adult outside an elementary school.
Evil? Some people won’t use that word, among them Melissa Grady, an assistant professor of social work at Catholic University. She’s an expert on sexual violence against children, and she and her colleagues deal with disturbing crimes and depraved individuals. She looks at multiple factors in a crime, looking at each stage in the decision process — what the experts call behavioral chain analysis.
“It’s everything, it’s prevention of mental illness, it’s gun control, it’s having a more responsive criminal justice system,” she said. She added, “Isn’t this a time for a conversation about better access to mental health services?”
She and her colleagues gathered for a Christmas party Friday afternoon, but they were all rattled by the news from Connecticut.
“I wish there was a quick, easy answer,” she said. “But there isn’t.”