What is there to say that hasn't already been said?
We don't watch television news, and we rarely listen to the radio, and we read the weekend's newspapers carefully, furtively. We needed the time, to process the shooting ourselves, to wind around what to say to our nine year old. And I think we worried for naught, for her stoic little practical nature shone through when we talked about it at dinner last night: he killed himself? okay, we don't have to worry about him.
But that it were so easy.
The thing is, there are a lot of way to analyze this situation. Do we need better treatment and resources for mental illness? Yes. Should we clamp down on guns and ammunition? Yes. Are video games too violent? Who knows? But to try and use the excuse that "guns don't kill people, people kill people" as a deflection away from the very politicized gun control issue is missing the point. A crazy person in China went on a knife attack on Friday - but because he was using a knife, those 22elementary school children were injured, not killed. Guns kill people. As Nick Kristof pointed out in the Times the other day, we regulate the hell out of cars and buildings and food, but "the only things we seem lax about are the things most likely to kill."
What do we want? Gun control. When do we want it? Now. How are we going to get it? I don't know, but I emailed President Obama (via the White House website), and I signed a petition to "address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress", and I signed an open letter to Congress and the NRA to "make today the last day that they block common sense gun regulations that protect all of our families". I'll probably write to my congressperson and my senators, even though I'm pretty sure they're already in favor of gun control. Because what we need is a good strong gun control policy, complete with background checks, waiting periods, restricted access to semi-automatic weapons, ammunition microstamping, a ban on high-capacity clips, and halt to gun sales at gun shows. And you know what? A CNN poll from a couple of years ago shows that a majority of the American people want a ban on semi-automatics (61% in favor) and background checks before gun purchases (94% in favor). I'd venture that those poll numbers would be even higher today.
I was a little stunned to learn, over last night's dinner, that they do in fact have "lock down drills" in my daughter's elementary school. Fire drills? Sure, I get that. But lock down drills in my bucolic suburban town, where the kids huddle in the corner away from the windows and the door, just for practice? The innocence of childhood is gone.