Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

December 21, 2012

The Newtown tragedy: So many questions, so few answers

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — There's lots of people who have The Answer in the wake of the horrific mass shooting in the formerly idyllic town of Newtown, Conn.

For example, there's a renewed push for gun control, at least when it comes to assault weapons that can spit out 30 bullets per clip at high velocity. But is that fair to the folks who responsibly use those types of weapons for sporting purposes?

I'm pretty sure the crafters of the Constitution didn't have modern weaponry in mind when they drafted the Second Amendment. But I'm also pretty sure that most people who own Bushmaster rifles don't have any intention of shooting up a first-grade classroom either.

I don't have the answer to that question. Not yet.

Then there's the push to make our schools more secure. Really?

Over the last 10 years, we have seen a proliferation of safety measures implemented at area schools. Rare is the school where one can just walk in the front door and just waltz around like they own the place. Nowadays, one must - at the least - sign in at the office. Many schools force you to push a silly buzzer before they will let you in.

We saw how effective the little buzzer was at Newtown, didn't we? But let's say our Soldier of Satan didn't have his handy-dandy assault rifle to shoot out the front window. What then?

There's a number of things that he could have done. The death toll might not have reached 26 before the cops showed up, but he certainly could have taken some lives without that Bushmaster.

The shooter could have posed as a deliveryman, or even an older brother needing to pull a younger sibling out of class for an emergency. That would have gained him access to the building and free rein to cause all sorts of mayhem.

Or, he could have dispensed with trying to get into the school altogether and parked a car laden with explosives as close to the front door as he could. He could have then either, a) done the suicide bomber thing and blown up the car with himself inside, or b) walked away from the car and pressed the send button on his cell phone.

I don't know what it is with people who have no more regard for human life that they desire to kill as many people as they can in a short period of life before, usually, taking their own lives so they don't have to face the justice system.

But they are out there apparently. Truth be told, they've been out there for many years. Perhaps some of you old-timers remember Howard Unruh, who killed 13 people as he was walking around his Camden, N.J. neighborhood in 1949. He spent his remaining 60 years of life in a mental institution.

Then there was Charles Whitman, who climbed the tower at the University of Texas in Austin in 1966 and blasted away for several horrifying minutes, killing 14 before a policeman shot him to death. As a 7-year-old who was already reading the newspaper, I thought that was pretty scary.

Adam Lanza is simply the latest in a long line of Soldiers of Satan who have so little regard for human life that they just stop caring, if they ever did care.

So what do we do?

What can we do?

The only thing I can think of is to love other people as much as we can and hope they reciprocate that love with something other than a gun or a knife.

You can pass all the gun laws in the world and turn schools into secure fortresses, but I fear that killers are still going to kill.

That's the scary thing.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.