Like most other people, I've been glued to my news sources over the past week as I follow the horrific story in Newtown, Connecticut.
I keep hoping something will be uncovered to explain why such an evil and heinous act was committed. But of course, with the shooter dead and gone, as well as his mother, and no note that we know of, we’ll probably be left in the dark.
One detail that jumped out at me, was the type of guns the assailant used. One of them is reported to have been a Glock. That’s a handgun (also known as America’s Gun). The only reason I knew that is because just recently, I shot one myself.
I was in Las Vegas and went to a shooting range as part of a group event I was in on. We shot from a whole range of arsenal, including assault rifles, a .44 Magnum and that Glock pistol. Most of the guns were heavy, hard to handle and deafeningly loud. The Glock on the other hand was light and the easiest vessel from which to deliver a bullet to the centre of the target hanging at the end of the shooting alley. Everyone in my group – men and women – seemed to derive some sort of rush from pulling the trigger. Perhaps it came from the thrill of holding such a deadly weapon, the challenge of hitting the bullseye or just some weird sense of power. When I think about it now, I feel cold. And I look at the photograph of myself smiling next to the paper clown that was my target, gun in hand, and I feel a bit disgusted.
I’m glad I don’t live in a place where the right to bear arms is so deeply rooted in our identity. For me the idea of the right to own a gun is based on an antiquated idea of protecting my land, when 911 and densely populated neighbourhoods hadn’t yet come to pass. That, and some misguided fear of the boogeyman coming to steal your stuff and a notion that society will eventually descend into neighbours attacking neighbours over a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of water.
According to various media outlets (the Globe and Mail, CBC news), almost 40 percent of guns in America are sold without a background check. Forty percent! But from Newtown to Aurora to Colombine and beyond preventing these atrocities cannot only lie in changing how easy it is to have a gun or at least a particular kind of gun. But rather the fact that wherever we live, we as a part of a civilized society need to feel a deeper responsibility to act when someone is displaying troubling signs. Do people just snap, without any warning signs? The experts say no. The killer in Connecticut must have done or said things to foreshadow what lay ahead.
Every foreign news organization covering the Newtown story is looking for a local connection, whether it’s because a victim lived in Winnipeg or because someone knew someone who knew someone who had some connection. In my case, it’s simply shooting from that gun. Frankly, it seemed an odd “attraction” to take part in at the time – but then again, I was in Vegas – but I’m quite certain I will never take part again. I’m sure doing so would make me once again imagine the horror that took place at Sandy Hook elementary.
My heart goes out to everyone in Newtown and especially those who lost their loved ones.
Photo credit: CC Flickr/byanthem