Sandy Hook Shooting, Newtown, Connecticut…and Unimaginable Observations


Washington, D.C., circa 1915. “Grief monument, Rock Creek cemetery.” The timeless memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. National Photo.

Working through….post.  Writing thoughts….down.

My family lived in Newtown.

My kids would have gone to Sandy Hook Elementary.

Its been 24 hours, and my fingers are still numb, my heart is broken, and my mind is just being able to wrap itself around the horrible and senseless mass killing that took place in the town I called home.

We lived at 167 Sugar Street…in a white house with black shutters that was built in 1900.

Had it not been for another violent tragedy, that occurred on September 11th, 2001…we would still be living in that white house with black shutters. This house where I spent so many gut wrenching hours that warm September day, waiting and wondering if my husband was alive or dead.  Sadness and madness…despair and disbelief. Please, please…I want this to be a dream. I want to open my eyes and find it all was just a nightmare clouded in mist…and fog.

Now, twenty children are gone. Seven adults are dead. Hundreds of people are in shock. And a town will never be the same.

Outside of Newtown, it is the same. We are living in a country where mass shootings and violent gun-toting, mentally disturbed people are common place. Yet another shooting…just more victims added to the casualty list of gun violence. We hear the same calls for gun control, and the same questions are asked…why? Why? Recognizable statements make headlines…gunman was quiet, loner, mentally unstable, and angry. Gunman had access to guns, bullets and body armor…all purchased legally. The killer had mental problems and warning signs were ignored, denied or unbelievably missed.

Some say this is the time we need to talk about gun control. I want to say yes…I agree, but I know it will not change.

Yes, there is outrage, and it is all to familiar. People are calling for action and as usual…nothing will be done.

My father says this is the turning point. That this latest killing is the final straw. I say no ,it is not. It will be like all the other mass killings in this country. Time will pass, and eventually another horrible story of violence and death at the hand of a lone gunman will be in news headlines again. The same exact questions will be asked. The same emotions felt. The same jerks making the same asshole remarks.

Media outlets will update already published statistics….and reporters will just tack on the latest victims names to a list that grows year after year, as echos of the words: “We never thought it would happen here…” are heard from people being interviewed by the press. The same outcome realized.

Yesterday, when my mother told me there had been a shooting in Newtown, CT….my response seem cold and desensitized. I thought…oh, another case of domestic violence spilling out in a public place.  When I heard it was a shooting at a school…my thoughts were typical…and generalized, a student…mad and disturbed. Then I heard it was an adult, who went into kindergarten classrooms and executed young children…and it hit me. My first reactions are the result of so many instances of violence and death. I have become one of those people, who say…it could never happen here., who express the need for gun control and mental healthcare reforms, and then carry on with my life…as I wait knowingly for another senseless act of violence to hit the cable news channels.

Look,  I’ve grown up with guns. I have used them for my protection and my family’s safety. Yes, there should be more gun control, weapons like assault rifles and automatic handguns should not be made available to the public, but I do believe in responsible gun ownership, more regulation and education. I agree with those who mention banning semi-automatic guns and rifles…and refer to Australia as a model we can look towards…but more importantly, I think there should be changes in the mental health services and support systems that seem to always fail us when we analyze what went wrong and why these gunman murder like they do.

After the jump, you will find many articles and opinion pieces and editorial cartoons that I have found over the last day in link dump fashion. Take them for what they are…statements, ramblings, demands, half-hearted condolences, professional advice, wing-nut advice, icing on the cake, last straw, ideological, rational, irrational,  grasping, far-reaching,  fringe thoughts, majority convictions, illusions, legalities, blame games, statistical proof, uncertainties, questions, assholes, assholery, political commentary, confusions, mental illness, financial, budget cutting, pleading, contrary, hypocrisy, religious, Jesus and God-fearing, excuses, explanations and unimaginable observations.

57 Comments on “Sandy Hook Shooting, Newtown, Connecticut…and Unimaginable Observations”

  1. I hope everyone is thinking about the families of Newtown Connecticut…let’s not forget them, okay?

    • janicen says:

      I’m having a hard time thinking about anything else.

      • HT says:

        I’ve been reading about this all day, and I’m getting really upset that the emphasis seems to be on the perpetrator and guns rather than on the poor people and babies who will not see another day. How callous can the media be? Never mind, we’re seeing it, first hand.
        My heart goes out the parents and families of the victims. Reminds me of Dunblane and 16 years after that tragedy, I still tear up. Hug your children hard people, regardless of their age.

  2. bluelady says:

    You’re really from that town? Your kids would have gone to that school?
    My thoughts are with you.
    Such a terrible,terrible thing. So sad.

    • Yes, we lived there…it is a wonderful place. I have a friend, whose daughter was there at Sandy Hook when the shooting happened. The little girl is okay…but her life will never be the same again.

  3. I know we are going to be learning a lot over the next few days, but here is something: Police find good evidence on motive for Connecticut school massacre | Reuters

  4. Reposting this link from Connie: It (was) Nicer in Newtown | Covered in Cat Hair

    I live in Sandy Hook, CT, a district of Newtown, CT. I moved here 21 years ago from the Midwest. A few days ago, if I told you where I lived, you probably would have confused it with Sandy Hook, NJ or not had a clue or any sort where we’re located. Today the world knows exactly where we are. They know we’re a tight-knit small town of 27,000 (well 26, 972 now). They see our quaint New England church steeples and clapboard sided homes, then images of our hometown Fire Station draped in Christmas lights. It’s charming. It’s a sweet place to live. It’s safe.

  5. janicen says:

    My cousin is a teacher in CT. Not in Newtown, but she put a post on FB, I don’t know how to copy it here but it said to wear yellow and blue on Monday. Those are Sandyhook Elementary’s colors.

  6. Eric Pleim says:

    i think you’re wrong in assuming that the fallout from this atrocity will be the same as all the others, i.e. nothing will be done. Public outrage has been building especially since the AZ killings, and Gabby Gifford’s miraculous story. There have been what, 4 or 5 mass murders between that one and this one, but this has aspects to make people take notice.

    First, this was the second most successful (if you want to call it that) gun related mass murder in the US ever. Second, it happened in a “leafy” suburb where everyone aspires to live. Third, these were little children, 5 to 10 years old. I’m sorry, but I have to cry a little more over a 5 year old losing his life to a madman with a gun than other victims.

    People are ready to have our govt. do something about this. At least I hope so.

  7. dakinikat says:

    I hope the takeaway lesson here will be how we view and treat mental illness but I’m not holding out much hope given all that I’m seeing when I channel surf by CNN is discussions about “evil”. Then, there’s idiots like Huckabee talking about leaving the gawdbag out of school. Yes, yes! Tons of school children suffer in Europe every day from shoot outs in the classroom because schools over there are secular and no one cares about the the religion inherited from the iron ages and remade in the image of the dark ages. That Huckabee even has a public platform in the 21st century is amazing to me.

    Mental illness is not a spiritual shortcoming. It’s not caused by demons. Our broken down health care delivery system basically lets it fester until some one does something really horrible and falls into the criminal justice system. We do not take care of the most vulnerable among us. We have a whole bunch of people that see folks with issues as weak and evil and deserving of death penalties and cells instead of treatment and help. Until we take care of the least among us in the same fashion we thrown riches on the already rich, I refuse to call us a moral society at all.

    This is the real message. Day in and day out there are folks that are mentally ill that are not properly treated. They are left to the good will, finances, and hands of families or the streets and spiritual shiesters like Mr. Michelle Bachmann. How many of the spree killers were severely emotionally and mentally ill? How many folks around them knew there was something wrong and were either unwilling or unable to do a damned thing about it?

    What we need today is a discussion on how we treat the mentally ill among us and why we don’t protect our children.

    • Exactly Kat, and I think that this is key to so many of the mass killings in our country. You’ve said what I feel, and what I could not get across in my post up top!

    • RalphB says:

      That would seem to be the moral thing to do. I second this whole heartedly!

    • HT says:

      My previous neighbor’s son was a schizophrenic – and he wasn’t getting the help he needed either. Fortunately he was not a raving lunatic, although he did hear voices.

    • janey says:

      I’m thinking that requiring every one who owns a gun to have a gun safe is one way to go. They would be expensive to buy and it would not be taking their guns away, just making them safer. Also really stiff penalties for anyone whose gun is used in an injury by gun of any kind. Instead, we just shrug and say ‘well, they have learned their lesson’ or ‘they have suffered enough’. Case of that father who recently killed his son accidentally from having two guns loose in the car or truck. If he was fined heavily or sent to jail (hard as it is to think) I think he might put his guns in a safe or case from now on. In other words, we have to deny the words -gun accident. There is no such thing as an accident with a gun anymore. And people would not be giving up their guns.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That is the law in Massachusetts.

        Massachusetts gun laws require that all firearms, rifles, and shotguns be stored in a secured, locked container or equipped with a tamper resistant mechanical lock or other safety devices properly engaged as to render the weapon inoperable by unlawful users. Moreover, every firearm and large capacity weapon sold in the Commonwealth must be equipped with a safety device (trigger lock) designed to prevent its discharge by an unauthorized user.

  8. prolixous says:

    The National Shooting Sports Foundation is located in Newtown. It is the second largest gun lobby behind the NRA and is directed toward promoting gun retailers and hosting the largest gun show in the world in Las Vegas next month. One of its other primary thrusts is to turn assault weapons into “sporting and hunting” weapons of choice. On its website, it has a white paper on “How to Find Potential Customers on Social Media.”

    This “foundation” has an annual budget of $26 million and has political operatives fresh from the Republican Congressional Caucus.

    As we ponder the unponderable and try to make sense out of the senseless, we can’t let these children pass without having the courage to say, “Enough!”

    Here’s a link to “The New Republic” about the irony of having this “foundation” in Newtown.

    • HT says:

      How is using assault weapons against animals a “sport”? I don’t understand. That’s not sport, at least now how I define it; that’s just sick glorification of blood shed, murder and mayhem. How many people are killed every year in “hunting accidents”? Imagine the number if assault weapons were utilized.

  9. dakinikat says:

    This picture is so beautiful:

    Pakistani children light candles to pay tribute to Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims in southern Pakistani port city of Karachi on Dec. 15, 2012. Pakistan has sent
    condolences to the United States over the shooting incident, local media reported Saturday.

    pakistani children

  10. Eric Pleim says:

    Yes, mental illness care in this country is quite problematical. It is a very complex issue, and I’m overwhelmed by all the thoughts I have about it in relation to this tragedy (I am a clinical psychologist). But I’ll make just one point. That is, to think that we could potentially prevent atrocities like this one with improved mental health care is a frank delusion. I could diagnose practically everybody I know with one or another code from the DSM, but I could never predict which of all the nutcases I am friends with and related to is most likely to go off and kill a bunch of people. Inevitably after a tragedy such as this, critics say, look, people in his life knew he was a nut, why didn’t they do anything about it? Well, because being crazy is not against the law. Until you actually break the law, society cannot restrict the rights of an individual, no matter how eccentric they appear. If you think about it, this is a good thing. Just imagine the alternative.

    • dakinikat says:

      If these folks were in a more functional system wouldn’t it up the chances that some one noticed any escalation? I’m sure we don’t want to trap and institutionalize every mentally ill person but it seems that we could do a better job of responding to some of the signs. I believe I read that both the Aurora Mall Shooter and the Tuscon Mall shooter were displaying extreme signs of their illnesses before the event. There’s not enough evidence on this kid yet in the public but folks were saying he was well known around town and had run into trouble with the law before … of course, if family refuses help, there’s not alot you can do until they bump into the criminal justice system. But, it seems that some of these folks escalated in symptoms way before the invent. Plus, I say this as one who has only had about 4 developmental/basic psychology classes as an undergrad in preparation for teaching certification and not any kind of professional.

      • List of X says:

        A lot of shooters display these signs, but I am pretty sure many more people display the same symptoms yet never end up shooting anyone. It’s this combination of readily available guns and unavailable mental help that makes these attacks happen. And while we should and can combat both components of this explosive mix, it would be much easier and more effective to restrict the availability of guns. This is because the people do not actively seek out mental evaluations, and when they do, there is a lot of gray area where it’s impossible to peg someone as definitely unqualified to have a gun, or definitely qualified. And in our system it nearly impossible to commit someone for treatment against their will. And finally, a mentally unstable person does not actually have to own a gun – they could get it from someone they know.

        • dakinikat says:

          Sounds like the mother was an unstable actually. Her sister in law described her as getting guns for the upcoming collapse of the economy. She appears to be that kind of person from New Hampshire that does the survivalist kind of thing. It seems she took her son out of school and home schooled him because she didn’t like what the school was doing for him. We’ll have to see what the FBI gets off of the computer. I have a feeling it’s going to be telling.

          • List of X says:

            That’s the kind of instability that leads someone to buy guns. It requires a different type of instability to use these guns on 6- and 7-year old children. The problem is, you can never know whether someone’s instability will lead to disaster, but if it does, it would mitigate the consequences if someone on a rampage can’t get their hands on an assault rifle. The country should definitely address the mental health problem, but banning assault weapons should be the first step. In my personal opinion, someone’s “need” to own an assault rifle is in itself a symptom of a serious mental instability.

    • Agree with Dak here. But I also think that when someone is determined to kill, and take others out with them, they will more than likely succeed.

    • roofingbird says:

      Yes, it is problematic and complex. However, that should not discourage society from the attempt to improve mental health care. Complexity is often the cause of inertia. No one knows where to start. I recall we had a similar discussion on where the law stands vs crazy people over the CO incident. I propose that we start with incidences of violence not reported, or properly addressed by our society and include that national information as part of mental evaluations. Second, lets reduce the right of states to control antiquated and idiotic gun laws and establish minimum federal standards. Third, lets honor human migratory flows in the above two points and recognize that violent craziness can be fostered by human leks or cliques. Right now NJ is third on the list after CA and FL in numbers of hate groups, and it hasn’t anywhere near the population of those two states.

      We’ll never live in a perfect world, but its worse than defeatist to think we can’t improve it.

      • roofingbird says:

        …And lets get counselors back into the schools. and while we are at it lets stop this crap about spending our money on the 3R’s and put liberal arts, PE and trade programs back into the curriculums. Our children need more ways to express themselves and find self value.

        • My aunt says that it was announced in Tampa today that all schools in the bay area will have a police officer on site, all day long, starting Monday. They should have mental health officers too…

      • HT says:

        Yes, yes and yes roofing.

    • janicen says:

      I think you raise a good point, Eric. It would be wonderful if everyone with any form of mental illness could be effectively treated just as it would be great if everyone with any form of illness could be effectively treated but solving all of the healthcare problems of over 300 million people is a bit of a stretch. However if we could keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people we could save the lives of their potential victims while we decide how to fix our healthcare system. I’m starting to read a whole lot around the web about the fact that it was mental illness that is the problem here. This is how the right wingers will change the subject from guns. Now everyone focus on a huge and insurmountable problem and stop blaming guns and we will stumble right into the other thing I keep reading, “It can’t be done, the gun lobby is too strong, we’ll never be able to limit the number of guns…”. And once again, the conversation is derailed until the next murder committed with a firearm.

  11. Adam Lanza’s Mom Pulled Him Out of School: Relative – ABC News

    The aunt of Connecticut shooter Adam Lanza said the shooter’s mother pulled him out of Newtown’s public school system because she was unhappy with the school district’s plans for her son.

    Adam Lanza’s mother Nancy, 52, was the first victim of his Friday shooting spree. Lanza shot Nancy in the face and then drove her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he killed 20 students and six adults before taking his own life.

    Marsha Lanza, who is Adam’s aunt and Nancy’s ex-sister-in-law, told Evelyn Thomas of ABC-owned-and-operated station WLS in Chicago that Nancy had once been a classroom aide at the Sandy Hook school.

    Marsha, who lives in the Chicago suburb of Crystal Lake, said that Nancy had home-schooled Adam after pulling him out of the Newtown public school system. She did not know when Adam had left school. According to former classmates, Adam had attended the local high school at least through part of 10th grade.

    Nancy Lanza divorced her husband Peter in 2009, when Adam was 17. Marsha said the divorce left her well off.

    Marsha also said, however, that Nancy had purchased guns because she was living alone in a big house. Nancy was originally from New Hampshire, said Marsha, and comfortable with weapons.

  12. RalphB says:

    Given a choice, I would recommend we follow the Aussie model for gun control.

    Australian politicians agree on gun laws

    Both sides of Australian politics agree the US must consider legislating for tougher gun control following the massacre at a Connecticut school.

    • janicen says:

      Good article. Thanks for sharing. Isn’t is interesting how government officials in other countries know that it can be done and without too much difficulty while here in the U.S. everyone is afraid to take on the gun merchants.

  13. Pat Johnson says:

    A beautifully written and eloqeuent post, mink.

    And I agree with Dak here: what is the purpose of having a gun collection? It is beyond my understanding that people “collect” these weapons in the first place. Particularly more so when the mother certainly had an idea that there was something a little of putting about her son.

    Mental illness itself has been underfunded for years thanks to the Reagan administration who threw some of these seriously ill people into the streets to fend for themselves. So many families are dealing with these issues and have few avenues to pursue due to the lack of resources and the inability to find enough beds to house these tortured souls.

    I don’t know what causes these upsets: the environment, genetics, or a combination of both but we do have some seriously disturbed people walking around that after the fact are considered “timebombs”.

    But be that as it may: the access to these destructive weapons is what makes their actions possible. It is deplorable that congress has lifted the ban on these items and shown the nation that to be in the pocket of the NRA is a far better move than actively fighting back against anymore sales.

  14. Here are a few more links for you to look through:

    The World Reacts To Sandy Hook

    29 front page newspapers from around the world.

    There’s a Reason We No Longer Live in the Fucking Medieval Age. – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

    LG&M has been posting some good threads, you should read this one.

    Obama, Crying I thought he was genuine…

    Cannonfire Joe has some thoughts here too.

    Shared pain | Suburban Guerrilla Susie links to John Cole, take a look.

    61 in 30 Years: A Timeline of Mass Shootings in America | Alternet

    The Day After – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast

  15. Linda C says:

    Wonderful post. I think this country needs to look itself in the mirror. If we want better health care for the mentally ill or the significantly disturbed, then we also have to be willing to pay for it. Community mental health in this country is tattered and non-functional. Only about a third of the seriously mentally ill actually get the care they need. They end up in the correctional system getting their treatment there. We have almost no long term care beds in mental health. Insurance wants the acutely psychotic discharged after three days in an acute psychiatric unit. It is a tragedy.

    It is more than just banning assault weapons. How many children die each day from random gun violence in our inner cities? There is no mental illness that causes these children’s deaths. It is a social illness. It is a social illness that anyone,no matter how unhinged, thinks it is OK to get a gun and shoot people.

    • NW Luna says:

      Word to so much — all — of the above comments. I do not understand and will not waste time trying to understand the sickness and ignorance.

      The rest of the world looks at us and wonders how America allows the means for mass shootings of children, and humans of any age, to happen so often.

  16. celeste mell says:

    After learning of this horrific event I was left struggling to find words that were appropriate to process this tragedy. I could not think of any that were adequate. Often, after these senseless acts I hear statements to the effect ” as we struggle to understand how this happened” or find the answers to the whys. It seems to me that the only answer or response to these statements/ questions is a combination of loss of resources to treat mental illness, accessibility to weapons and ammunition that have no legitimate use for average citizens (thanks to the NRA) and a progressive disengagement of the human race in how we interact with one another. I think it’s human nature to desire to hear some explanation that we hope will reassure us that ” Oh, well I am safe because I don’t live there, or those circumstances don’t apply to me”. The unfortunate truth is that none of us are safe ANYWHERE any longer. Gone are the days when we could leave our doors unlocked, go to a grocery store, go to a library, go to church, etc.,etc., and feel safe. The audacity of the proponents of less gun control and their position that if more individuals are armed that the likelihood someone could take down a shooter is outrageous. Perhaps they will now suggest that we send our elementary aged children to school with guns or arm teachers. I hope and pray that I am never able to ” understand why ” something like this is not only capable of happening but now is so prevalent in our society. Anyone that finds sense in allowing this more guns for all and cuts to programs that make assistance to those in need of mental health OR physical health services should be FEARED. As a parent myself, it sickens me that I have to talk with my child about an escape plan if a shooting should occur at school. And finally, I cannot imagine the pain that the families of the victims will endure for the rest of their lives. My deepest sympathies and hopes that they may in time find some measure of peace to all of them.
    Celeste M