I’m not sure we can understand the “how” or the “why” in the aftermath of this recent massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, but there are reasons to see this event as an anomaly; the result of negligent stupidity on the part of a parent. The National Association of School Psychologists is suggesting that children should be reassured that this shooting was an unusual event and they are safe in their schools. http://www.nasponline.org. This may be true, but only if parents of children with mental health issues make wise decisions about which activities are beneficial and life enhancing. The mother in this case collected guns and taught her child how to shoot them. Her relationship with her son was described as “close.”


It is also a reality that the winter holidays are accompanied, for many people, by a malaise: a sad inefficacy, a complex of emotions that can become almost intolerable. Some folks are unhappy because they think they “should” be happy. Others resent that they are no longer children and they can’t line up at Santa Land and sit on the lap of a benevolent fat man who will make all wishes come true.


What is this unhappiness that spreads over so many like a film of grimy discontent during this holiday when hours of daylight decrease and the symbols of childhood magic increase? Decorated trees, wreaths, toys, red and gold wrapped gifts, diamond studded fake snow – all full of the promise of happiness.  Some could experience a kind of profound disappointment that life isn’t what it appears to be.


When people are disappointed and desperate for solace, they might do almost anything. For example, if they think their mother loves guns more than them, or as much as them, and she has surrounded herself with guns, they might shoot her. Perhaps their relationship was so intertwined with the pleasure of playing with firearms that the act of shooting her and then himself was his notion of a perfect union, a solution to the struggle in his life that he shared so closely with his mother.


But what about the elementary school teachers and all those little first graders?  Maybe he thought that other kids could grow up and become disillusioned and anguished like him. Could he have wanted to help them separate from their parents? Did he want to take other innocents with him to the netherworld?


We can never understand his motives, but it is clear which activities a parent should not offer a fragile child. If a parent has a child who is difficult to deal with and understand, why teach them to understand guns? What skill are they learning? What was her logic? What did that parent expect that her son could do with his knowledge? That learning to shoot would bring him happiness, or a sense of empowerment and greater focus?  And why have a cache of automatic military weapons and ammunition at his disposal?


We can only hope that there are not many misguided parents in the world who decide to teach weaponry to their unstable child, and therefore this is a rare occurrence. To make it even less of a possibility, how about limiting access to guns, especially automatic weapons meant for mass execution, to anyone, whether they are supposedly sane or mentally incompetent.