Another unspeakable tragedy. This time, 20 young children will never come home to their parents. But instead of looking at itself, at its own policies, America is yet again pointing the finger at the individual. Of course it’s much easier to blame one deranged young man then for the nation to take ownership of its role in the carnage.
Already there has been speculation that the Adam Lanza was somewhere on the autism spectrum. As with the Colorado massacre before it, belief that a neurotypical person wouldn’t dream of committing such a heinous crime goes a long way to easing the collective conscience. Lanza must have lacked empathy, we tell ourselves; he must have been a loner. Rest assured, he was nothing like us. He must fit some label or convenient profile. The idea that a ‘normal’ person would never act this way gives us some warped sense of solace during a time of intense grief.
But it’s not accurate or fair to imply that autistics are inherently violent or dangerous. Yes, their brains work differently. But as this autistic blogger rightly points out: “One bad apple does not speak for the rest of us. One bad apple can fall far away from the tree. One bad apple does not define the tree it fell from either.”
It’s much easier to dodge the issue at the heart of Newtown. The glaring fact that a gun—or several guns, as it were—shot innocent children, their teachers, Lanza himself and his mother who, ironically, was said to be a gun enthusiast. (She reportedly owned an “extensive” firearms collection, and frequently took her kids to the shooting range.) More often than not guns are used against the very people who erroneously believe that guns somehow protect them. Guns get you freedom—yes, the freedom to walk into a school and shoot it up. That’s all that guns give you. And that freedom is built on fear; it’s an illusion at best. At worst, a fallacy.
Bottom line: there will always be people in the world who are troubled, people with vendettas, people with Issues. These people won’t necessarily have autism or any identified mental health concern. The truth is, guns make ending life easy. Consider if guns weren’t quite so accessible. If Adam Lanza had brought a knife into school instead… Maybe he would have hurt one person, maybe two, before someone managed to intervene. He would have been taken him into custody before so many lives were lost. Maybe. Until gun laws change, we’ll never know.
Image credit: Flickr Entropy