Monday, 17 December 2012
The Unspeakable Tragedy at Sandy Hook
By now you undoubtedly have seen and read the accounts of the horrific shootings Friday in Connecticut where 27 were killed including 20 children. It is those children - babies really, kindergartners – who make this latest gun tragedy unbearable.
But also, we should not fail to remember that such atrocities are commonplace nowadays – hardly unexpected in the United States. In fact, it is the second mass killing in less than a week; there was one right here in Portland, Oregon, last Tuesday where, luckily, “only” two died in addition to the shooter.
In 2012 (so far), there have been eight mass shootings in the U.S. That, to me, is a crucial point - “in the U.S.” Of the 20 worst mass shootings in the past 50 years, 11 were in the United States. The second-place country with two mass shootings is Finland.
(The Washington Post has a good story on some historical facts about mass shootings.)
I'm not going to pontificate on this uniquely American kind of crime but to the extent that this one, for having killed tiny children, is possibly a wake up call, we must think carefully about why it is most common (by magnitudes) in the U.S.
No matter the gazillion words that have and will continue to pour forth, the bottom line is that this is a gun crime. Got that? A person who was barely an adult himself shot 27 people with a lot of guns.
The president, some state and federal legislators and all the pundits are saying "this time" we must do something.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. They say that after every horrible killing spree but there is no reason to believe it. When the immediacy of the tragedy fades, the NRA, its lobbyists and Congress members who readily accept that organization's campaign contributions will continue to make it easier to buy and own guns.
Just watch in the coming weeks: I'm pretty sure there will be a lot of calls for more armed guards in schools and no useful changes to gun laws. It would be good if I am wrong.
UPDATE 5:40AM: In my early morning reading, I ran across this story, I Am Adam Lanza's Mother, at Alternet. Certainly as a nation we must address the gun issue but this mother's story illuminates another important part of the problem.
IN OTHER NEWS: You wouldn't know it from the major media, but events other than the Connecticut shootings do continue to take place. One may be devastating for elders.
Following a lengthy telephone conversation on Friday with President Obama, Republican House Speaker John Boehner has proposed raising the tax rate on top wage earners beginning 1 January. All well and good until you read what he wants in return. According to Politico, Boehner would agree to the tax rise only:
"...if President Barack Obama agrees to major entitlement cuts, according to several sources close to the talks...
"Boehner also wants to use a new method of calculating benefits for entitlement programs known as 'chained CPI,' which would slow the growth of Medicare and other federal health programs and save hundreds of billions over the next decade."
Please note that it is not just Boehner and Republicans in general who want to screw old Americans. Politico, by using the "slow Medicare growth" argument instead of the "will dramatically cut elder's healthcare" explanation are promoting the Republican agenda to their readers.
And although it is not mentioned in the Politico story, we all know how waffly the president is on Social Security and Medicare cuts.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: The Christmas Tree