Saturday, December 15, 2012

What the Connecticut Shootings are Really About

The details of yesterday's shootings in Newtown, Connecticut were just starting to trickle in when my Facebook feed began to light up with posts from friends saying what they thought this story was really about. These sorted fairly clearly into a number of categories:
  • It's really about the need for gun control.
  • It's really about the need to allow responsible people to carry weapons to protect themselves and those around them.
  • It's really about the state of mental health care.
  • It's really about the need to be better parents to our kids.
  • It's really about what we have become as a society.
I have seen other commentators opine as well that this is really about the need to put God back in our schools, although that particular one hasn't shown up on my Facebook feed. The Westboro Baptist Church apparently is going to picket the funerals, because it's really about tolerance of homosexuality in our country.
While each of these thoughts have their own argument behind them, and while I certainly have my opinions about the relative validity of those, I'd like to suggest that all of them are red herrings.

All of these theories help us (or at least those who believe them) feel better, because they all boil down to one message: this could have been prevented. And we desperately need to believe this could have been prevented, because otherwise this could happen again, and it could happen to us. If these theories are right, however, we can make the world safe and neat again, and sleep better at night.

In addition, we are drawn to stating what this story is "really about" because, frankly, we can't stand to really contemplate what this story is really about.

What this story is really about is that 27 people, 20 of them young children, were brutally murdered in a senseless act of violence that we will never truly understand.

We need to let ourselves sit with that reality and feel the feelings that go with it. Only then will we be ready to have reasonable discussions about what, if anything, can be done to stop it from happening again.


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Naomi Zikmund-Fisher
is a clinical social worker, former school Principal and a Crisis Consultant for schools and community organizations. You can learn more about her at
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