I just couldn't. The night before the shooting, I was having an argument about whether people should be legally allowed to bring handguns into bars, stadiums, schools, and other crowded places (I was arguing against guns-in-bars). But after the shooting, I was processing. I'm still processing.
I've written the same post three times, a post discussing the facts about the shootings we've had recently, a post asking for reasonable gun control. I'm a gun owner. I knew after Aurora that the we have a huge problem: any lunatic without a criminal record can legally buy incredibly dangerous weapons and commit mass murder. These shootings will keep happening on a fairly regular basis until we find a legal framework to prevent it. That's what I want to talk about, but I need time. I wrote that post after Aurora, and deleted it, and then after Clackmas, but deleted it, and I've written it again now, but haven't published it.
What shocked me about Sandy Hook was my own reaction to it. I have been expecting something like this. In a conversation about lone wolf terrorism with a friend of mine two weeks ago, I talked specifically about elementary schools and the availability of assault weapons. So as I was watching the coverage, and heard that a .223 rifle had been recovered, I knew it was an AR variant.
There was this odd moment when I realized that I wasn't shocked, and I wasn't surprised, that I knew this kind of lone wolf act was entirely possible. The FBI has been warning us for years about lone wolf attacks just like this one.
That's the thing about lone-wolf terrorism. It's usually just some crazy guy, like Giuseppe Zangara who had serious medical issues, and blamed FDR for them. In Zangara's mind, FDR was responsible for everything that had gone wrong in his life. So in an attempt to kill the president he shot five people. There was no political motivation to his terrorism, it was just lunacy and delusion.
But the moment I had when it came to Sandy Hook was yesterday, when I realized that I wasn't feeling anything. Is it possible to recoil from your own thoughts in horror? Am I a member of the 9/11 generation, that I just expect terrorist attacks to happen? Have I seen so many mass shootings in my life that it's turned into a kind of ho-hum thing?
Because I have. I remember Columbine. I remember being afraid to go back to middle school because I thought I would die. I remember people running back on campus one afternoon at my High School because some gang members had pulled pistols on each other at the 7/11 across the street. I went to college 45 minutes from Virginia Tech, and a few of my friends knew some of the victims. The shooting happened on April 16th. I proposed on April 15th. School shootings and mass shootings have been such a part of my life as someone who is 27, that my brain is now trying to convince me that these occurrences are normal. And that's what added an extra layer of horror to this whole experience. That's why I couldn't talk about guns. That's why I don't know if I'll take part in the comments yet.
I wrote that yet-unpublished post about our nation's gun problem with as little emotion as possible, and it makes me sound like some kind of bean-counting zombie Vulcan, because I haven't dealt with my own emotions about Sandy Hook.
I didn't have that conversation even well after Aurora because I feared the pie fights that would ensue. I don't like fighting with other Kossacks. I don't like that people scream at each other when we need to sit down and ask ourselves what policies as progressives we can support to solve this problem. I don't like it when I get emotional enough to get involved in the pie fights.
I learn a lot about policy from the comments of Kossacks here. There are people here that are way, way smarter than I am, who work in highly technical fields, and who are happy to share their knowledge with us all. I want to see more of that when we talk about gun control, and less of the screaming.
I don't think it's appropriate, either, to accuse people of politicizing this. Asking for action is a way that people handle grief. "Never again," as a rallying cry is always an appropriate response to something like this, and a good one. It's not political to look at what happened last week and say that we have a problem, and that problem is that it is too easy to get your hands on a weapon in the United States. We have no licensing process for individuals, no screening process to make sure that the person making the purchase is of sound mind. And if you're a gun owner like me, and you can't look at what's happened over the past few years and say that America has a gun problem, then you haven't been living in the same country as the rest of us.
I like the entire second amendment. I don't think the "shall not be infringed" part of it makes any sense without the "well regulated" part, as in the question "What regulations do we need to keep seven year old children from being gunned down ten days before Christmas?"
I don't know that I'm ready to be a part of the conversation yet, but I am willing to try.
But yeah, we need to have a conversation. And I'd like to bring my knowledge of and experience with firearms to that conversation. And while some folks might lose it when I say this, the AWB was milquetoast bullshit that let gun manufacturers sell assault weapons with slightly fewer features. So I have two diaries I'm planning on the subject. One about my ideas for gun regulation, and how the AWB of the 90's was missing a critical component. The other, the one about the weapon which was used by the shooter, is already written but it needs some work. I think that it's missing a critical component.
We need to stop this. I don't think anyone who's really thinking about this issue thinks that what's happening is okay. But when I can, I intend to be a part of this conversation.