In the wake of unspeakable tragedies like the Connecticut shooting, the tendency in our society is to label what happened, pack it in a box and tuck it away somewhere. It’s our collective defense mechanism. More often than not, the conversations quickly and unfairly turn to disability. These conversations usually lack depth and understanding, and they do nothing more than promote inaccurate and unfair stereotypes.
Some reports suggested that the Connecticut shooter had a form of autism. There is no more of a correlation between autism and violence than there is between playing the piano and violence.
As President Obama said, now is the time for meaningful action. Let’s look beyond superficial “explanations” and conduct a deeper analysis of the true culprits behind this tragedy: America’s gun culture and the underfunding of social services to help those in crisis regardless of disability status.
The writer is legal director of the Disability Rights Legal Center.
With all due respect to Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, to say in regard to the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School that “evil visited this community” demonstrates part of our problem in dealing with gun violence.
The quote suggests that evil is outside of us, not the norm. But the evil here is not coming from outside; the threat is coming from within.
American culture is steeped in violence, which we accept, even celebrate, as a way to solve problems. Why are we surprised that troubled people use guns to express their despair? It does no good to say that some people are good and some are evil, as if nothing can be done.
Yes, our gun laws need tightening and our mental health system needs more resources. But until we as a nation understand that the evil is within us, we will continue to experience tragedies.
Americans are naive if they are shocked by the Connecticut school massacre. With an estimated 300 million guns in this country, the elephant has been in the room for years. As a longtime proponent of strict handgun control and confining assault weapons to gun clubs, I’ve been dismayed by the continuing lack of political will to fight the gun lobby, evidenced by the failure to renew the assault weapons ban in 2004. Just last week, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a concealed-carry ban.
While our hearts always go out to the families of innocent victims, I know that the expressions of anguish and pleas for action to curb such tragedies will quickly fade from the nation’s memory until the next massacre.
This is the new normal.