The Craig Fahle Show

Craig Shares His Thoughts on The Newtown Tragedy

December 17, 2012

Craig Shares his personal thoughts and feelings about the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday.

Shock. Anger. Incredibly deep sadness.

As the news from Connecticut unfolded Friday, the emotions were immediate, and intense. I am the husband of an elementary school teacher, and the father of a school-age son. My first thought was to gather them around me, and be thankful for each moment I have with them. My next thought was different. I am disgusted that I have to worry about something like this happening to either of them. I am nervous, angry, and frankly shaking at the thought of having to explain to my son that someone out there may want to harm him some day for no other reason than he might be standing in the line of fire. As I struggled mightily with my own emotions, I thought that maybe I should take a deep breath, and try to calm down before I wrote this. No way. Enough. NOW is the time to talk about this. While the emotions and sadness are still raw, and very real.

I don’t pretend to have answers on how to prevent mass shootings. But saying I don’t know the answer is a cop-out. It is a truly lame excuse to take no action. When is it enough? The list is long: Connecticut, Virginia Tech, Arizona, Columbine, Fort Hood, Tucson, the Royal Oak post office: 61 mass murders since 1982. I think the thing that troubles me the most in going through that obscenely long list is how many I had forgotten. I wonder if I’m alone in that. Every time it happens we are coarsened even further. This one, though, has me truly shaken. These were elementary school kids: kindergartners. Might this be the catalyst to finally wake us up to the fact that there have to be ways to deal with this? And yes, I said fact. We can do something to reduce the likelihood that this can happen again.

We may never be able to prevent mass shootings entirely. But there have to be some proactive steps we can take to make them a lot more difficult to carry out. Guns are a part of our culture. I don’t see that changing. What can change is our attitude about what types of guns and ammunition are acceptable in our society. Assault weapons, high capacity magazines, armor piercing bullets: does the average citizen need these things for any real reason? These types of advancements in gun technology exist solely for one purpose, to make guns more efficient at killing people.

Reasonable restrictions on weapons and their availability should not be too poisonous to discuss, or too politically dangerous to debate. This is not a discussion about taking away second amendment rights. That right will continue, but it’s important to remember that the right to bear arms is not absolute. The government has long had restrictions on the types of weapons allowed in the hands of private citizens. This isn't about eliminating guns. That’s impossible in this country. But maybe, just maybe, we begin to reflect on the gun fetish that exists in America. It’s not about a well-regulated militia, or even the fantasy of protecting oneself from a tyrannical government anymore. One of the outcomes I would like to see coming out of this tragedy is that we, as a society, are willing to turn and call the apocalyptic, paranoid fantasy of a United Nations/ U.S. Government conspiracy what it is --a twisted and dangerous delusion that has provided energy and support to the most extreme elements of the gun lobby. What are you stockpiling ammunition for?

Events like the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School have happened in other countries. But the fact remains that the U.S. has had them happen with far more frequency. Why? What is it about our society that allows this to happen? Has the gun lobby established a monopoly on what we will consider as the viable interpretations of the 2nd Amendment? I think we’re a big enough country to have a more inclusive and dynamic view of our constitution.

Surely a better mental health system is also something that has to be addressed. I have far more confidence that reasonable conversations will be had about diagnosis and treatment in our mental health system than about guns. Our national fixation on firepower has to change. This event may be the catalyst that gets us beyond our paralysis. That paralysis can only end when those controlling the debate get off their typical points and start talking about real solutions. That only happens when we as citizens demand better.

The anti-gun lobby needs to wake up to the fact that handguns are here to stay. The NRA needs to wake up to the fact that we can no longer tolerate their absolutist positions on the 2nd Amendment. Get these groups in the same room, and start working on responsible, sensible restrictions on what private citizens actually have the right to own and possess.

I fully understand that the right to bear arms is enshrined in our Constitution. I’m not naïve enough or foolish enough to think that will ever change-- and I’m not sure I’d even want that. But as an American, as a citizen of a nation that has accomplished so much, I refuse to think we can’t change our behavior, and our ability to respond to a serious crisis. We may never prevent all mass killings. Laws may not have a big impact. But any impact, any impediment for the Adam Lanzas of the world; anything that slows them down, gives more time for plots to be uncovered, more opportunities for warning flags to be seen, is a chance to prevent another tragedy from happening. In the end, if changes to policy lead to one less mass killing, it will be worth it.

Some will spend the next several days trotting out the old phrases. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. True, but people with guns, especially high capacity guns, can kill a lot more people. How about this chestnut? “An armed society is a polite society.” I’m sorry, but there is absolutely nothing polite about what happened in Connecticut.

I’m tired of this, and sickened by this. Let’s actually do something about it.