I didn’t really want to touch this, but I just wanted to express how incredibly saddened I am by the events that unfolded here in Connecticut last Friday. I subscribe to the Hartford Courant’s mobile updates and the first notification came in at 9:55 am on Friday simply stating “State police responding to an incident on Dickinson Drive in Newtown”. I looked at it, thought nothing of it and settled in to the mountain of tasks that were on my desk. My phone vibrated with urgency, it seemed, non stop after reading that message. I would have paid more attention to it but I was having a challenging week at work and decided to stay focused on the tasks at hand. A few hours later, one of my co-workers came over to ask if I heard about the school shootings and that was when I finally knew
Newtown is probably an hour and a half from where I live. I am not familiar with the town and despite the fact that I am hearing that I went to high school with one of the victim’s father, I didn’t know anyone who was directly affected by the tragedy. This didn’t stop me from crying and literally going into shock when I read the mobile notification that 12 were believed dead. A few minutes after reading that text, my aunt called to tell me that the latest reported number was 27. Later on that day we would hear that 18 of the 27 were children between the ages of 5 and 10. That number would later increase to 20 children, 7 adults all of them dead.
For almost an hour on Friday my co-workers and I huddled and talked. We were all from different generations. There was the generation that shared with us that during their school days they practiced hiding under their desks to protect themselves from a soviet nuclear attack. I shared that the only thing that I practiced in school was how to exit the building during fire drills. One of my co-workers reminded us that she was from the generation after Columbine after which practicing for lockdowns as a result of school shootings became mandatory. How odd I thought, that in the old days it was so easy to identify who the actual enemy was; a communist or a leaping flame and today our enemy could be our neighbor or our teacher’s son.
The incident also forced me to form an opinion on the brewing gun control controversy in the United States. I don’t like guns. I grew up in Jamaica during a time when those American shoot-em-up, western flicks were in “style”. It was also during the time when Jamaica was nearly on the brink of a civil war where gunmen representing both the democratic inclined Jamaica Labour Party and communist inclined Peoples National Party showered bullets on each other and innocent people. The escalating violence was one of the reasons that I had a fast track application to migrate to the United States where I kept the belief that guns were dangerous until my epiphany last Friday. It’s not guns that are dangerous, it’s really the people. By the same token, I’ve listened and read and understand that the United States is perhaps the easiest place on the earth to acquire a gun. We have too many of them on our streets and way too many people who believe that guns are the answer. What we have is not so much a gun problem but an epidemic of over inflated egos, copy cats, and mentally ill people in America who have easy access to these weapons of mass destruction.
The study of behavioral sciences has come a long way and we know from readily available information that many of these individuals (mass murderers) share the same personality traits and habits. We all know someone who fits that description. Heck, I’ll be more specific, I know someone that fits that description. But what are we supposed to do now that we are able to profile these individuals? In my situation, no crime has been committed, I don’t have any factual evidence other than a gut feeling that one will be and it’s not like I can call the police to assert these observations. Even if I could, what would or what could the police do at that point? I think we as a nation should put as much effort into calling for programs that help the mentally ill; programs that allow us to report these individuals in addition to calling for stricter controls on the sales of guns.
I’ve said too much, but I am so sad and shocked that this happened, here. My heart goes out to the parents, teachers and everyone else who has been affected by this tragedy.