Dan Kang

Politicization and Demonization

Tearful Obama

This morning, a 20-year-old named Adam Lanza walked into a Connecticut elementary school and killed 26 people, 20 of them children. He then killed himself.

Naturally, people started talking about gun control. Three guns were found at Sandy Hook Elementary School – two pistols inside the school and a rifle in the back of a car. Some of my friends have expressed the sentiment that it’s too early to be having a discussion about gun control and that we shouldn’t be politicizing the tragedy; I wholeheartedly disagree.

Mayor Bloomberg put it best:

With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their A, B, Cs are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.

Unless significant changes are made, these shootings will just continue to happen.

Another challenging issue is how to view people like Adam. It’s so convenient to demonize Adam and to think of him as a monster because his deed – murdering 26 people – is absolutely despicable. Yet the harsh truth is that he was just another human being like you and me. Adam was believed to suffer from a personality disorder, and I hope that in addition to gun control, we’ll focus on improving mental health services so that we can more effectively administer help to those who need it.

My heart goes out to everyone affected by today’s shooting.

Update (12/16/2012): Sources now say that Adam did most of his killing with the semi-automatic rifle.