The Shooting In Newtown, Connecticut: A Reflection

December 21, 2012

This Christmas, like previous ones, will be a time of celebration and reflection, with the odd family dispute thrown in. This Christmas, for the residents of Newtown, Connecticut, will be a time where children are buried by their parents; mothers, sisters, friends and lovers are buried by their loved ones; a young man is added to an increasingly long list of mass shooters, and gun control becomes the topic of fierce debate – again.


So small. So deadly.

It’s a week since news came through about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut and quite frankly, I still can’t get my head around it. The children who died and the teachers who died trying to save them from the man who was determined to destroy everything in his path – and had the tools to do it – was an event that shocked the world. The children were aged between six and seven with a world to explore and potential to be realised. You can often see hope, guile and wonder in these little people: the qualities long since gone from the lives of many grown-ups. All of that was wiped out, along with the adults who were charged with helping them.

Hearing of this, my memory went hurtling back to a similar event, here in Blighty. In 1996, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news of the mass shooting in a school in Dunblane, Scotland. Fifteen children between the ages of five and six and one teacher died at the hands of Thomas Hamilton who later killed himself. The regulations regarding the private ownership of firearms were tightened up and there hasn’t been a school shooting since. Now it doesn’t stop those who obtain firearms illegally and we’ve had some mass shootings in the last three years, one by Derrick Bird who killed 12 people with a legally owned shotgun. I’m not sure if Raoul Moat had a legal firearm, but he’s one of the most notorious mass shooters (as if there’s any other). But it does restrict the ownership and on the whole, we’re safe here.

I recognise that not having the second amendment in the UK makes it a very different kettle of fish to the US, but tighter controls on what firearms you can have and who has them must make a difference. Maybe then there’ll be no more shootings in cinemas, Sikh temples and on campuses (alarmingly, the usual sites for these tragedies). President Obama has a great opportunity to make a real change here in his second and final term. He’ll have opposition for sure from the all-powerful NRA and others, who in spite of what happened last week, cling to the second amendment like a man on a piece of driftwood in the ocean. But he has to stand firm. America can’t have another incident like this. Or can it? I read that membership of the NRA has gone up since Newtown. Well, then, ladies and gentlemen. Those people had better hope their loved ones are nowhere near a campus, religious house, school or hospital when the next person who goes off the deep end comes-a-hunting. I also read this week that the NRA is ready to “offer meaningful contributions” to the efforts that’ll make sure there are no repeats of incidents, such as Newtown.

I think I just saw a pig flying past my window…



  1. It is sad that we keep seeing the same thing happen here. The mood here seems slightly different here this time. Don’t know that we’ll finally do what is right, but we’re closer. We’ve also got to do something significant with our mental health system…we’ve been cutting it since the ’80’s.

    • The parallels with our countries at times never ceases to amaze me.

      In the 1980s, at the time of Margaret Thatcher’s reign as Prime Minister, asylums were shut down and Care In The Community was born. The idea was for those with mental health issues to integrate with the wider community, rather than be put away in big, imposing houses where at times they were treated appallingly. It was sound as a concept, but not having enough resources (money, again) meant that from time to time, some poor unfortunate would be at the receiving end of those who had deteriorated due to inadequate support, often with tragic results.

      I really hope this is the first step to meaningful gun control. However, based on what the NRA had to say recently (armed guards at schools? You must be joking! Haven’t they learned anything?), it could be a very long road indeed.

  2. I agree totally, and am hoping that pigs can really learn to fly. There have been so many posts on fb over the last few days, the tragedy has been felt and acknowledged by people all over the world. Action to take has to start with more restrictions on arms in the USA. We will be watching 🎥⭐

    • We can only hope so. Let’s wait and see.

  3. It’s tricky business. There’s some real nuts over here, most of whom won’t stop just because they couldn’t get a gun (the Texas mass throat-slashing and infamous Boston Bombing are examples) and there are places where you need a gun (like Montana.) On the other hand, you don’t want a lot of guns lying around to be grabbed by whoever (Lanza stole the gun from his mother.)

    • It’s true that people who intend to do harm don’t need a gun to do so. And guns definitely should not be left lying around for others to pick up, as the recent spate of children killing their siblings has sadly proven.

      • Well, the mass shootings are pretty freak incidents. They should get some consideration, but basing your legal system on preventing mass shootings is a bad idea.

        Semi-armed populaces don’t work too well. Looking at Mexico as opposed to Switzerland is a good illustration.

        You’re right about the children accidentally shooting people.

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