The Day After – Evil visited this community today

“Evil visited this community today and it’s too early to speak of recovery, but each parent, each sibling, each member of the family has to understand that Connecticut — we’re all in this together. We’ll do whatever we can to overcome this event.”  Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy

image: A flag flies at half-staff on Main Street in Newtown, Conn., on Saturday, Dec. 15 2012.

If you had a hard time sleeping last night, you weren’t alone.   I probably should have turned off my television, stopped looking at tweets and news stories,  and read a book or watched some silly movie.  I couldn’t, though, and I sat for hours, following the events yesterday, much in the way I did in the days following 9/11.  The collective grief of our country felt a lot like it did after those terrorist attacks – maybe because what happened yesterday seemed just like an act of terrorism.   People hurt and kill each other every day in this crazy world we live in, but when a group of innocents is taken from us, it really is so much worse.

When I wrote my post yesterday morning, I said that I wasn’t going to make this about guns and gun control.  I’m going to backtrack on that just a bit, not because I blame guns for this, but because we need to talk about this.   TexasTart quoted something from the FBI that was stunning to me.  She said, “I saw a statistic from the FBI today that said there are 310 million people in the USA and 285 million guns – that they know about. It’s fairly unrealistic to think those will all go away and they are the very thing that is typically used to protect us.”   What gave me pause about this comment was not the number of guns in this Country, but the fact that the overwhelming majority of them are in the hands of responsible owners.

I spent some time last night looking at timelines of mass shootings in the United States  in the past 20 years or so.   Since the shooting at Luby’s Restaurant in Killeen, Texas in 1991, there have been 28 incidents, resulting in 255 deaths.   The number of guns used in all of these attacks was 75, give or take.  That infinitesimal percentage, in relation to the number of guns owned by Americans, belies the claim that this is only a gun control issue.  It tells me that guns, and gun owners, are, for the most part, under control.

What troubles me more is who is committing these heinous acts.   With few exceptions, the suspects are young white males who, for whatever reason, are harboring feelings of anger.  They are disenfranchised members of our society, driven to kill because they were denied a promotion, were fired, got a bad grade at school, broke up with a wife or girlfriend, or simply see things that the rest of us can’t and don’t see.   If what we’re hearing about Adam Lanza has any truth to it, he fits the profile.   While I tread very lightly in saying so, given the lack of real and reliable sources,  this young man had psychological issues which were or weren’t being addressed.    The weapons he used yesterday were legally purchased and owned by his mother, one of the victims of his rampage.   How or why that can make any sense is beyond me, but it matters if one wants to really talk about how mental illness is the real, constant and common factor in these things.  Sane, well-adjusted and happy people don’t murder each other.

When I said that someone could have done something that may have prevented this tragedy, well, this may very well be an example.   I’m not blaming his mother.  More often than not, good parents do what good parents do – raise children who will be happy, healthy and productive adults.   Sometimes, however, because of guilt, shame, social stigmas or poor support systems, children are let down by the very people who are supposed to do right by them  and help isn’t given.

So, there are a couple of things that we really need to talk about.   Mental health issues, and the way we deal with them in this country, have to be discussed in a much more realistic and productive way.   Health insurers are under the impression that a couple of dozen sessions with a professional therapist are going to fix whatever ails our brains.   I can’t begin to tell you how naive and idiotic that mindset is.   I know that it’s all about the money and the bottom line, but the cost of putting the rest of us at risk is much worse. Sending people out into the world with a handful of prescriptions for psychotropic medications doesn’t do anybody any good.   Not to make light of it, but crazy people don’t think or know they’re crazy.     We’re all asking for trouble if we believe, for one second, that these people are ready to go home and continue life as “normal”.

Since I’ve already opened this Pandora’s box, I have a few thoughts about the gun issue.  I’m not a gun-nut and I’m not a card-carrying member of the NRA, but, then again, I’m not a card-carrying member of any group of lobbyists.   My husband and I do own guns.  We know how to use them, how to care for them and how to keep them safely out of the wrong hands.   Both of us have a very healthy respect for their power, and we handle them with caution.   I believe that most rational gun owners do the same.   If I have a problem with our gun laws at all, it’s with regard to what are referred to as “assault”  weapons.  I’ve never been able to see a good reason for any individual, outside of servicemen and law enforcement officers, to own this kind of fire power.   Hunters don’t need them and they’re just too much for personal protection.  I have a suggestion for those who want to use these guns, and I’ve given this a lot of thought.  If you want to test your skills, then these weapons can be held by responsible and licensed owners of gun ranges.   Drive over there, rent the thing for a couple of hours, shoot the hell out of some targets, then give it back and go home.   You’ll still have bragging rights, and nobody gets hurt.

You’re more than welcome to add your own thoughts and comments.   I’m going to make one thing clear, though.  Don’t let this devolve into a screaming match.   That’s not a request – it’s how it’s going to be.  I’m not stepping in to break up any fights.  I’m too old for that, you’re better than that and it’s not going to help anything.   Just think about those 20 tiny angels, and how we got here.  So, take your time, be thoughtful and respectful, and I’ll be happy.

Empress

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41 Responses to The Day After – Evil visited this community today

  1. Shan says:

    I couldn’t agree more.
    Thank you for this post.

  2. Baroness Beachcomber says:

    You pretty much wrote exactly what I have been thinking but couldn’t articulate as well as you just did. Thank you.

  3. Kaereste says:

    Empress I am so grateful you tackled this.
    My post yesterday was about mental health care, or actually the lack of it.

    I happen to live in an area that is plagued by the “chronically homeless” which is just a label for self-medicating mentally ill people (people who turn to booze or heroin to treat their inner-beast).

    No politician is brave enough to carry the standard on this. Few parents are tough enough to confront their ill children. The courts have failed us by making it nearly impossible to force institutional treatment so there are no resources for the families of the mentally unstable.

    I fancy myself a libertatian. However my libertarianism ends with unstable people being allowed to dominate our public gathering areas or shooting up movie theaters and campuses.

    There has to be something we can do!

    • Kaerste, I think I fall under the heading of libertarian as well – consequentialist though, not that Ayn Rand “Atlas Shrugged”, natural-rights stuff.
      At the risk of dating myself, I remember a story by Geraldo Rivera, back when he was still a real journalist for ABC News in New York, about the closing of a number of mental institutions. Granted, they were pretty horrible places and those who ran them didn’t really offer much in the way of therapy. Now, though, they have no place to go to get help. They take to the streets because there’s really no where and no one who will take care of them. They’re forgotten and ignored until something goes horribly wrong. It doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of a country and how we treat those who need our help the most.

  4. windycitywondering1 says:

    I think I would be a card carrying member of a lobbyist group with the mission of banning “assault weapons”. They have their place in the military and police communities but they do not belong anywhere else in the general population for any logical reason. And yet our country seems unwilling to treat them any differently than other types of guns. All firearms are a hugh personal responsibility, but I would like to see our government make assault weapons illegal to own and that crimes committed with them to carry additional penalities than just those that pertain to the crime.

    • Kaereste says:

      I have to agree with this. I just don’t know how to get the assault guns that are already out there out of the hands of angry maniacs and gangsters. I’m afraid there will just be a huge black market for them.

      • I don’t think that’s all that far-fetched. My husband and his friend went to a gun show in Columbia about a month ago. Not only was the place packed with people and guns of all descriptions, but those who were buying assault weapons were doing so for investment purposes – they’re just waiting for the ban so they can jump on the profits. I imagine that the very same thing is being played out all over the place. That scenario really scares me, maybe even more than just leaving things the way they are. .
        I wish I had the answers, but this problem is bigger than all of us.

    • Windy, You’ll get no argument from me about any part of your comments and thoughts about assault weapons. Now, if you can find a bunch of lobbyists who’ll stay true to course about it, I’ll proudly carry that card.

  5. klmh says:

    Yesterday I was miffed at something that happened in my life, and then I found and felt the horror that happened in CT. The horror of those that are involved is beyond my grasp. I am beyond sadness for those of us that live in this country.
    We will not be able to contain gun control because of the ignorance that exists in the US. Unfortunately as the population increases,the idea of gun control diminishes, and thus, the dumbing of America.
    God bless us, everyone…

    • I think it stopped all of us in our tracks and put our trivial problems into perspective.
      As for changes in our gun laws, I’m not ready to throw up my hands and declare us a nation of morons. In fact, I still think that there are more good and smart and thoughtful people than we give ourselves credit for, and that they’re more than happy and willing to do some really heavy lifting. I believe that if you keep up the dialogue, badger your representatives enough and don’t lose focus, anything is possible. We’ve got a lot of work to do, for sure, but I won’t just give up on us – now, that would be dumb.
      I’m very fond of this quote, and I think it’s particularly relevant today:
      “The wind of change is blowing through this continent. Whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact.” Prime Minister Harold MacMillan
      Now I’m going to have to go burn a draft card or my bra or something.

      • klmh says:

        I am glad you have a better outlook than I do. My city, 35 years ago, was at the top of the doctorate degree in % in the nation. That is no longer the case.
        I see no hope for my state. The demand for gun ownership has now become law. We can now carry a firearm anywhere, except in buildings that will not permit it. I am disgusted and will not acknowledge that things will get better. It will, and has become worse.
        I can promise you that nothing, nothing will be done to restrain gun ownership, especially with semi-automatics. I couldn’t agree with you more, but it will not happen. Or, it will not happen in our life time.

  6. FLG (Mr. Tigre's Former Butler) says:

    “Mental health issues, and the way we deal with them in this country, have to be discussed in a much more realistic and productive way. Health insurers are under the impression that a couple of dozen sessions with a professional therapist are going to fix whatever ails our brains. I can’t begin to tell you how naive and idiotic that mindset is. I know that it’s all about the money and the bottom line, but the cost of putting the rest of us at risk is much worse. Sending people out into the world with a handful of prescriptions for psychotropic medications doesn’t do anybody any good. Not to make light of it, but crazy people don’t think or know they’re crazy. We’re all asking for trouble if we believe, for one second, that these people are ready to go home and continue life as “normal”.”
    Empress, Loud Applause!
    I remember a time. in this country, when there were functioning community mental health facilities, much like there were long-term residential hospitals for the treatment of TB.
    In either the late ’70’s or early ’80’s those clinics lost all funding, their patients given approximately $20.00 and escorted to the doors and sent out into society. Those facilities ceased to exist, just like their TB counterparts.
    I cannot begin to tell you the number of our fellow human beings I have witnessed, obviously in need of serious long-term residential care, freely walking the streets of South Florida.
    The “fine colleagues across the aisles” of our Congress and Senate will soon begin to further reduce “entitlement” programs.
    I fear we “ain’t seen nothin’, yet.”
    If blame is to be placed upon anyone for the actions of these mentally challenged individuals, that blame rarely rests not upon the family members of those individuals, Quite often, we have read the family was desperately trying to locate treatment for their ill relative. Blame rests firmly upon those elected officials who have been responsible for the wholesale obliteration of our former, admittedly rudimentary, community mental health care facilities.
    The state of Florida is spending a fortune drug testing “welfare” recipients. Who owns the company that won that contract? The wife of governor Rick Scott.
    Our nation chooses to order the purchase of the newest “F whatever new model number” war planes, and totally ignores the very real human “time bombs” that exist within each and every community, large and small.
    The minute one’s insurance (if one is lucky enough” to have it), runs out, the patient is deemed to no longer present a danger to themselves or those around them.
    Once before, I asked the question as to why we have more of our citizens in prison than any other nation on the face of the planet? One facet of the answer is that we treat the mentally ill as criminals, to be turned into profit, rather than fellow neighbors who have medical conditions.
    This morning, I learned that the family of a very dear friend of mine lost a child in this latest massacre. That family did nothing to deserve the heartache they are now experiencing any more than my family deserved the heartache we felt when we lost a family member in a politically motivated bombing here in the United States.
    Those elected officials, over the past five decades who have colluded to refuse Mental Health Care in the United States shoulder the responsibility for the loss of those children. We the people, healthy and mentally challenged alike, deserve better.
    There are many things we the people need more and sooner than we need the newest model warplane or missle.

    • FLG (Mr. Tigre's Former Butler) says:

      I am also reminded of the reaction of the Amish families, who lost their children in that massacre. Their actions set a fine example for the rest of us.

      • Those Amish families showed incredible grace and dignity, as well as defining the meaning of forgiveness. Robbie Parker, the father of 6 year old Emilie, gave a statement yesterday which moved me to tears as he expressed his feelings about the Lanza family.
        “It is a horrific tragedy and I want everyone to know that our hearts and prayers go out to them. This includes the family of the shooter,” said Parker. “I cannot imagine how hard this experience is for you. Our love and support goes out to you as well.”

        I can only hope to be this generous and kind.

    • trudie says:

      Amen.

  7. Donna says:

    When you read this it may sound disjointed, but there is a theme. I worked days and my husband worked afternoons, so I have to keep the house quiet while he sleeps. LOL once I fall asleep nothing can wake me up. My FB is open 24/7, I go through my lists that I have over 200 likes so I can get different opinions on subjects. If I am watching a tv program I go to FB during commercials. I don’t want you to get the idea that I am reading FB all the time.

    I am a daughter of a range officer that qualified the police department. My birth and step father are hunters. When my sons became of an age that they could legally hunt, I took them to the sportmen’s club for gun/hunter safety instructions.

    My ex worked for his self-employed father he would at times have to take money to the bank for night deposits. I didn’t know that he carried a gun with him. This is over 40 years ago. One morning I woke up and found my sons playing with the revolver that he “hid” under the couch cushions, to say the chit hit the fan is an understatement.

    As a single mother of 2 I kept my sons enrolled in Little League Baseball, Jr League Football, swimming lessons at the Y, etc. Later on my sons would coach/assistant coach Baseball & Football. My oldest son still coaches baseball, (his youngest son started college this year) He also belongs to the MI High School Athletic Association as a paid Referee/Umpire. He is also a machinist. My youngest sons is deceased.

    My husband has guns that he hid in a closet, when the grandchildren came along I put a deadbolt on my bedroom for safety (it is illegal in my city to put a deadbolt on a bedroom door) When I purchased my Beretta 380 for target shooting (bulls eye, I can’t shoot at the ones that have a human shape) I went through all kinds of hoops to get it home. During that time I immediately purchased an almost 1,000 lb fireproof gun safe with a key/combination lock. It took 3 men to get it down my basement stairs. The safe was open for my sons to bring their guns/rifles for storage, which they did. (When my husband showed my birth father my targets he wanted me to enter competition shooting, I can’t shoot at targets that have a human shape so I declined w/o saying why)

    Back to baseball/football. As a parent watching games I would see other parents acting so bad that they had to be thrown off the grounds by the refs/umps. Later on my son as a ref./ump. would have to do the same thing.

    As a Michigander I have watched our legislators go banana wacko with their lame duck legislation. Enacting laws with $1 million attachment that the people said no to in November. Right to Work for less, Anti-Abortion that if women want to get an abortion they would need insurance riders, etc.

    Thursday morning I read that they had a new law waiting for signature by the gooberner that would allow concealed weapons in schools, churches and public arenas. I was immediately beyond angry. (Go back to a previous paragraph that relates to sports)

    Soooo, I decided that the commercial must be over and I would go back to my TV program. The program was interrupted with the shooting in Newton, CT. No one could imagine my complete horror.

    • Donna says:

      Thursday morning I read… OOPS Friday morning…. My deceased son was mugged and died from his injuries.

    • Donna, I’ve been following your links and news feeds (thank you very much), and Michigan’s lawmakers do seem to have lost their collective minds.
      BTW – if you don’t mind, I’d like to steal your “banana wacko” line. I have a feeling it might come in handy in the future, even earlier if I can calm down enough to write something about that Right to Work stuff without slapping my monitor.

      • Donna says:

        I have no problem sharing. I am also angry at the newest, latest, greatest anti-abortion measures that require women to have a rider on their insurance if they want an abortion. Would the last one leaving Michigan, please turn off the lights. The legislators have brought shade to Michigan

        • Donna says:

          As a great-grandmother it is obvious I am unable to have children. I find it simply, @@@##$$%%^^&& horrible for other women that can.

          • FLG (Mr. Tigre's Former Butler) says:

            I am very sorry for your loss of your son. The vast majority of gun owners, myself included, are responsible citizens. There are business owners who do need to be able to protect themselves and the products and services they provide. I fear the day that only the military and police would be allowed gun ownership. I do not now, nor will I ever have children, but I cannot imagine owning a lethal weapon and not having it properly secured. The “stand your ground” law in Florida has not been without its problems.
            I cannot imagine there could ever come a day that I would envision myself more capable to decide a woman’s right to reproductive freedom than the woman herself. Birth control and reproductive freedom, in my opinion, lay solely with the woman who’s body belongs to her.
            The right to work longer and harder for less law is insanity. Americans already work longer hours, with less vacation time than any country in Europe I am aware of. The entire unionization movement has been beneficial for non-unionized workers and played a major role in the development of our middle class. Non of us are old enough to remember the Pinkerton Guard massacre, which really gave momentum to the formation of American unionization movement.
            Perhaps our elected officials should be the first in line to work for less and give up their benefits. I would like to at least see them earn no more than the median income of their respective districts, including their own outside sourced income.

    • Boobah says:

      Very compelling article Empress. Thank you for sharing this.

      I am struggling to find words that do my emotions justice. It might just be that I am experiencing a gamut of feelings that are overwhelming. Mostly, I feel let down by our current system.

      • Boobah, I had a conversation with a friend this morning about parenting and how easy it is to judge what we do or don’t do. I’ve been seeing people on social media who are painting Nancy Lanza as part Doomsday Prepper, part Betty Broderick. She’s been called a bitter divorcee, and accused of raising and training a murderer. The sheer rage and rancor is beyond horrible, and I don’t understand what purpose it serves. What does that say about us? Do we respond to an act of hatred by finding a new target to hate? How do those comments and conversations bring us any closer to solutions?
        I don’t know, nobody knows, with the exception of the immediate family, what went on in their lives. I don’t know if she reached out for help or if someone reached out to her and offered any. Maybe she was, herself, a ticking time bomb, caught up in her own rage and disappointment at the fact that life had dealt her a bad hand.
        Dysfunction and mental illness exist in a number of families, on one level or another, and there’s no such thing as the perfect parent. I understand that we’re angry and sad, and we feel the need focus blame on somebody, but she paid the price for her “sins”, at the hand of her son, and I’m not going to play Monday-morning quarterback on how or why she raised her son the way she did. There’s more than enough blame to go around, and our mental health system and lawmakers have a share in some of it. I guess we all do.

        • melthehound says:

          How do those comments and conversations bring us any closer to solutions?
          ^^^^^^^^^^^^
          They don’t. All they do is turn things into a witch hunt. Looking for someone besides the shooter to blame, in any of these cases, is a pointless exercise IMO. The fact is, it seems to me, people are looking for someone to punish and they’ll accept that patsy in any form they can find one. I said elsewhere as well, no one will every know the WHY of why it happened. Speculation aside.

        • Boobah says:

          Empress,
          When I first became aware of what happened, second to my feelings of heavy-hearted compassion, I thought people are going to want to know why this happened. When people begin realize there will never be an answer, particularly, an answer that will be satisfactory, it occurred to me that more hatred and anger will eventually follow as a result of frustration.

          People want answers. The answers will provide satisfaction. The feelings of satisfaction provide closure. That closure begets healing. Healing helps a person move forward. The human mind *wants* to feel better and we will do whatever it takes to feel better. I think we were designed this way. I think we have an innate mechanism that prompts us into doing whatever makes us feel better.

          So, IMVHO, when satisfactory answers are not there, we will make up our own and we will continue to do this because ultimately we want closure – we want to heal. We will try to blame someone/thing because that somehow satisfies us. We falsely believe we have an answer. In this case, if we can blame the mom, we have an answer to why this happened. Then we can try to feel better, heal, and move forward.

          Once we get real with ourselves, the true answer is that there is no answer to something like this ( I agree with you MelTH). But this is unsettling to us for various reasons. So, Instead we get very emotional – we blame, call people names, externalize our anger in protests, and feel angry/sad/defeated, send nasty tweets….etc.

          This, however, perpetuates the problem! In regards to mental health, which is exactly what I think this boils down to, the biggest barrier to treatment/help for people with disabilities (psychiatric and physical) is attitude – stigma and labels. If there are any people with psychiatric disabilities reading or listening to these recent media forums, they are not going to feel encouraged to seek treatment now – they will withdraw further and could be our future tragedies! People with disabilities are inundated with negative attitutes from society. They live in it – so imagine a person who this week was suffering and was about to seek treatment – well, I bet they won’t now. Not after what they have heard this weekend – unstable, mentally ill, crazy, insane, BatShitCrazy, nuts, mental hospital, broken, evil, demented. These words have tremendous power and they invoke much fear. Rare is the person who going to see a professional and risk being called any of these names.

          We, as humans, have been given the gift of higher intelligence, and we need to use it! We don’t seem to be very thoughtful anymore. Well, at least, not until tragedy strikes.

          I think the answer begins with working on ourselves. Mardrag’s blog said it best. We as individuals must think before we act/react. We need to think before we spew negatives because we just don’t know what the impact will be. We need more social justice.

          Words matter. And once you hear something, you cannot unhear it.

          I understand completely how hard it is to put aside our anger and sadness over something so tragic such as this. But our best bet is to learn something.

          JMHO

          • Boobah, Thank you for your very thoughtful response to my little rant. I guess we’re all a little jumpy right now. I’m telling myself that when we dry our tears and that tight feeling in our chests subsides, cooler heads will prevail. Then we can talk about this without just pointing fingers and, yes, learn something. I’ve also been keeping Mardrag’s post in mind these past few days and it’s helped me a great deal.

            • I stopped by to say hello and how are you doing Empress. I hope you are feeling better.

              To you and Boobah, thanks for the mention. I have this compelling desire to DO something but all I seem to have at the moment are words. I am touched that they have touched you and helped in any way. We need to stick together, join hands and Dazzle The World With Our Light! I’m glad to be here with you! Hugs!

              • Mardrag, Re: “I have this compelling desire to DO something but all I seem to have at the moment are words” – IMVHO, your words are doing something.
                I’m feeling much better and thank you for asking. I don’t think anybody around here was still buying my “sick” routine, anyway. 😉

  8. Edna says:

    Saw this on twitter tonight, and it sums up my overall thoughts. “Guns have been around for over a hundred years. Crazy people have been around for longer. So what’s changed? The answer is our society.” No moral code, ie. removing our nation’s God-based foundation, brick by brick results in humanity losing their collective soul.

  9. Edna says:

    Point of clarification. I work in the mental health field (over 20 years) and have several very close family members struggling severely with mental diseases. So if the words ‘crazy people’ offend, please know it is not meant to be used in the pejorative.

    • Edna, No offense taken – I think everybody understands the context in which you used the word, and I thank you for your comments. We’re a very different society now but I honestly believe that we can figure out how to be the kind of people we once were.

  10. codystl says:

    Once again, you have eloquently written a very balanced blog on a potentially divisive topic. I agree with your views and suggestion 100%. I get the hunting thing and the sport but I do not understand why anyone needs to own an assault weapon.

  11. princesspindy says:

    Thank you Empress, I am limiting my exposure to this incident but I knew I could come here and read something thoughtful and intelligent.

    • pindy, I can’t thank you and codystl for your very nice comments – I’m really touched by them. After the service on Sunday evening, I couldn’t watch any more. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but watching Kenya (RHoAtl) twirling around in peach chiffon, declaring her self “Gone With The Wind fabulous” was the perfect bit of nonsense to have me giggling and SMH – that and pictures of dogs. I’m glad my post gave you someplace to go and avoid the overwhelming television coverage. Damn, now I’m blinking back good tears.

      • princesspindy says:

        (((Empress))) You are a gifted, intelligent, talented woman and you have bring a unique perspective to issues that really make me think. Many times I read your blog and I prepare long responses in my head but I let them go. I read this yesterday and had so many thoughts and “feels” about this but I didn’t want to set off a firestorm, lol.
        I appreciate you!

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