Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

December 19, 2012

Life, liberty, and…..answers?

Clay Mercer
Cordele Dispatch

Pinehurst — Right now everyone in America is looking for answers.  They want answers that will ease the ache and pain they feel because of the tragedy that occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last week.

I don’t have those answers, mainly because the questions most people seem to be asking don’t penetrate to the core of the issue.

Most people ask, “How could this happen?”

Unfortunately, that’s not the complete question, that’s just what comes out of their mouths.

Some people want to know how it could happen with all the gun laws that are already in place. Sadly, the criminal here broke just about every pertinent gun law relating to this type of crime: possession of a handgun by a minor, carrying a weapon on a school campus, breaking and entering a public building, and so forth.

Well, here’s the news about criminals: they break laws.

Some people want to know how this could happen when so many similar incidents have been in the news lately. I think the key phrase here is “in the news.”  

In a statement attributed to Morgan Freeman, the actor, Mr. Freeman essentially says that the news media, by sensationalizing these types of crimes, contributes to the notion that this man decided to “go out in a blaze of glory” rather than kill himself quietly in a closet somewhere.

A few people have been heard to ask why this man’s state of mental health could be either ignored or overlooked when there were quite a few high risk factors, easily recognized, in place. His mother was a firearms enthusiast. He had an altercation at the Sandy Hook School with four of the staff, three of whom were victims in the shooting the next day.

Am I jumping the gun (pun intended) by saying that this man had mental health issues?  I don’t think so.  The fact that he had an “altercation” with four women at the school is a big sign all by itself.  I don’t know what else was going on in his life, but apparently he wasn’t functioning in a rational manner or I wouldn’t be writing this at all.

The question I have has less to do about why it happened than it does with what we, as Americans, are going to do about it.

It seems to me that this is a great time to bring all the necessary parties to the table to discuss the issues that were the seeds to this tragedy.  Gun control is one issue.  School security is another issue.  Mental health diagnosis and treatment are still other issues.

The opportunity for America’s leaders - elected, appointed, and self-appointed - to arrive at a positive, healthy approach to some real solutions is at hand.  I believe those solutions are most likely to be found in methods that lift up and reinforce the sanctity and dignity of human life.

As a nation, we have spent too many years devaluing human life and making targets of institutions of government, from schools to elected officials.  Sadly, I think this premise will be ignored.

I believe the battle lines have already been drawn on this issue.  I believe that the career politicians are going to use the deaths of these children to attack their opposition and defend themselves, merely to advance causes long identified to be meaningless and without merit.

My heart goes out to everyone affected by this tragedy.