The massacre in Newtown was one of the most heartbreaking turn of events in recent American history. It was also one of the most evil – even prisoners possess a strong hatred for people who target children for violence.
The shooting should have provoked a wide ranging conversation on political, social, and cultural issues. Instead, the media and President Obama have overwhelmed the fallout with a single minded focus and emphasis on gun control.
More gun control would have done little or nothing to prevent Adam Lanza from killing 27 people on December 14, 2012. Lanza could not legally purchase a gun. He knew that, and he stole guns legally purchased by his mother – all of which were legal when the assault weapons ban existed. The gun, however, is an easy target for discussion because it allows Americans to exercise the futile and fatal conceit of control. Let’s “do something” is the chorus call, and what is the easiest thing to do? Pass more gun laws. Nevermind that gun laws were more lenient in the 1970s, but there were fewer school shootings in that decade or that violent crime, overall, has declined consistently over the past twenty years.
As I make clear in my new essay for the always wonderful Front Porch Republic – “The Culture of Guns? What About the Culture of Narcissism?”, we should have a national discussion on the aspects of our culture that encourage selfishness – what Christopher Lasch called “the culture of narcissism”, our comfort with violence when it suits our interests – how many children have been killed in the drone strike campaign, and our ignorance when it comes to mental illness.
Adam Lanza deserves the blame for the murders he committed. It also seems fair and reasonable to ask serious questions about his parents – Why didn’t his father speak to him for several years? Was this abandonment? Why did his mother train him to shoot guns? Why did she leave him unaccompanied and unsupervised for days at time so that she could vacation?
Obsessing over the gun not only allows Americans to grasp at the easiest of answers and solutions, but it reinforces their fixation on technology.
I address all of these issues in greater depth in my new essay, “The Culture of Guns? What About the Culture of Narcissism?”