In the Wake of Tragedy: Who is to Blame?

This past week, the world saw a terrible tragedy. Twenty children under age seven and seven adults, including the gunman’s own mother, dead at the hands of Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. I don’t need to sum up the story more than this for you — enough is available on the news channels (but click here for more information from ABC News if you need it).

What is clear to me, however, is that no one knows who to blame for this massacre — and it is amazing to me just how many people don’t blame the shooter. A twenty-year-old boy (no, I would not call him a “man”) picked up a semi-automatic weapon and opened fire on school children. I am angry. I am angry at him, and I am angry about the fact that the media seems to feel that the most effective places to place their blame for the massacre are anywhere but on Adam Lanza. I’m sorry, Adam Lanza is at fault here. This event was cold and calculated, no more obvious than when you hear that he went into the school with two semi-automatic weapons and wearing a bullet-proof vest. Yes, there are contributing factors; but in modern society too often do we refocus our lenses on “contributing factors” rather than hold people accountable.

We talk about Nature vs. Nurture. We talk about environmental factors. Are we really so naïve that we can’t see that the boy might be at fault for his own actions? Just a simple scroll down my Facebook Newsfeed shows me how many directions this story is taking.

What we’ve heard:

Adam Lanza’s mother was a gun enthusiast who took him to the shooting range, and so it’s her fault that this tragedy occurred. By the way, she is dead. Her son killed her.
Society doesn’t talk enough about mental health, and so it’s our fault that this tragedy occurred.
Society doesn’t talk enough about gun control, and so it’s our fault that this tragedy occurred.
It’s too easy to get a gun, and not easy enough to reach a mental health professional, and so it’s our legislators’ fault that this tragedy occurred.
The media glorifies school shootings by the way they report on them, and it’s the mass media’s fault that this tragedy occurred.
– Adam Lanza may or may not have had Aspergers, and it’s the Autism’s fault.

Believe me, I understand the need to resume power in a situation that leaves us powerless. We need explanations, we need words, and so we find causes that are dear to us by which we can prevent this situation happening. I don’t discount these — in fact, I encourage them. Friends, lack of access to guns is not the answer — there is simply no way for us to prevent effectively from people getting guns if they really want them, and our money and time is better spent in other endeavors. Let us focus on education. Let us focus on emergency drills that equip us to respond to this kind of situation. Let us be angry. Let us learn from our fears. Let us focus on healing from pain and suffering. Let us support these families and friends who are trying to cope with inconceivable loss — loss of life, loss of potential life. Let us count our blessings. If there is anything we could do to prevent this from ever happening again, let’s do it. But it is not healthy to redirect the blame for the massacre in Newtown off of the one who planned and executed it. Nor is it healthy to blame ourselves.


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