For Sandy Hook's sake: learning from the tragedy of Newtown
We must turn from this trauma to tackle America's complex failures over gun control, inner-city crime and mental healthcare
A woman waits to hear about her sister, a teacher, following the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school Photograph: Melanie Stengel/AP Friday's news that 20 children and six adults were gunned down in Newtown, Connecticut, a small community known locally for its Great Pootatuck rubber duck race every spring to raise money for charities supported by the Lions Club, was sickening and painful. I am used to studying armed violence in places like Afghanistan, but when it hits home, such experience does not make digesting the horror any easier. Although my work has taken me far afield from the Constitution State, no matter where I go, I am always a ConnecticutYankee. I was born and raised in Connecticut. Much of my family is in Connecticut. Connecticut is home, and I taught last year at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. It is time for the United States to move beyond the absurd Kabuki theatre and national Trauerfeier sentiment that follow every mass shooting. It should tell us something that we have to go to the Onion for that insight. Although the investigation is at an early state, this most recent act of violence raises three interconnected issues that the United States needs to focus on. The primary discussion will be on the availability of guns in the United States. But to blame these violent acts simply on the availability of handguns is disingenuous. There is no getting around the fact that lax gun control measures are a principal contributor to gun violence. In the US, in 2010, there were 12,966 gun deaths. Compare that to the most recent UK data in 2011, showing there were 58 gun deaths in the United Kingdom; even when the rate is adjusted for population, the number of gun-related deaths in the UK would only be 290 – nowhere near the US figure. In other western...
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