- Cullman, Alabama


December 19, 2012

EDITORIAL: Beyond the surface of violence

Questions about the motives of Connecticut mass murderer will continue to swirl through our thoughts, but what conclusion can be reached from such an evil act.

Armed with enough ammunition to kill everyone in the elementary school, the shooter was stopped short, some speculate, by the sound of police sirens as officers rushed to the scene. Before taking his life, the young man had slaughtered helpless children and several educators.

Americans have witnessed some horrible acts in recent years, from Columbine to the mall in Portland, Ore. But who could have been prepared for the heinous act of targeting little children, ages 6 and 7?

As the shock begins to wear off, debates are already under way to strengthen gun laws, to eliminate selling assault-type rifles and large clips of ammunition. Those debate are certainly necessary as Americans, evil or well, have access to weapons usually reserved for military and police work.

Others will dig deeper into the life of the shooter and investigate what horrors filled his mind that led to the murder of innocent children. And the truth may yet frighten us even more.

Americans can decide to stiffen gun laws, and that might have some positive impact. But guns, by our constitutional right, will not depart from society. The core issue, however, goes deep into the society where we live.

Respect for human life has vastly eroded in the last half-century. Violence on the streets, blood-soaked video games and movies, assisted suicide, gang culture, the onset of filth in the arts and music, erosion of the family structure, and self-indulgent behavior all need to be examined for their roles in a failing society. Otherwise, will we be satisfied with tightening a few gun laws and turn away?

The ragged edges of society are also imperiled by a retreat in funding for mental health services. How can the troubled be reached with so few resources available?

The gun control debate will soon consume the American political front. While the arguments will have some merit, they will largely miss the point of why so many innocent people died in Connecticut. Without a deeper look inside the conflicts and contradictions of modern American society, the violence will not stop with smaller clips of ammo and fewer semi-automatic weapons.

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