by Elliott Stonecipher
When I last wrote about America’s family battle over and about guns, the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was America’s deepest, most open wound. Then, in pertinent part, I wrote:
… While many will quickly issue polemics about guns and their control, or individual rights and their violation, Newtown is far, far more than a stage set yet again for the same old same old political yammering.
… In this need, there is no external threat at which to patriotically wave American flags, and neither is there any obvious advantage or disadvantage to either political party. No one politician or another will be able to claim superiority in any aspect. This is different.
… If we do this, it will always be remembered simply as “after Newtown.” It won’t bring these babies and their protectors back to their families or to us, but it will redefine their loss and absence as the price their families and we paid to prove America can still manage to be the America we love.
… Though I always doubt that “apolitical” is likely any longer from our elected leadership, until we know for sure, I will fall back on my opening hope and prayer of last night … and on the faces of Newtown’s lost babies and heroes, increasingly and preciously imprinted on our, and our nation’s, consciousness.
Americans who care have waited for our President’s official response. We received it yesterday, in a laundry list of political stuff, with a half-billion-dollar price-tag. Most regrettably, President Obama found the need to bring four elementary school-aged children to stand around him, supposedly a selection of those who wrote to him about the massacre.
Before I go further, let me get the minutiae, so interesting to partisans who will attack this piece, out of the way. I have owned guns since my father bought me a .22 rifle when I was a few years older than the Sandy Hook first-graders. As he put it, he bought me this “starter” gun to “plink at cans,” which is precisely the only thing it was good for, and the only way it was ever used. For those who misunderstand the so-called “gun culture” of the heartland, I note that it is important to me that I still own that gun, as I will until I die. I bought and hunted with other guns many years ago, as my father did before me, but my son has only ever shot at targets. And, very notably in this context, I have seen, up-close and personal, what gun violence looks like.
Our President’s partisan political use of Newtown is not only a low water mark in the gun feud, it is, to me, a low water mark for America. Keep in mind, I don’t give a hoot about either political party, and haven’t since professional partisans bought them not too long ago to make huge amounts of money as they turned “politics” into one of the nastiest and most corrupt endeavors through which we Americans suffer. That we reached this point in their manipulation of us is our fault, not theirs, because – as they know – we don’t seem able to catch-on to them. The vast majority of them exist to use our “journalists,” polling firms, technology vendors and others to package and sell an ever more poisonous by-product of their personal greed and hate, all in the name of a “better America.”
Newtown could have been a turning point for us. We could have come together – in the name of these slaughtered innocents – to put in place targeted mental health systems and services to help our Nancy and Adam Lanzas, to mitigate any damage provably caused by the ultra-violent “entertainment” fed to our young people, and – yes – to do everything possible to keep guns and other weapons away from our Adam Lanzas.
Though I believe deeply that the American soul must extraordinarily respond to the deaths of Newtown’s babies, it is with real sadness that I acknowledge how our president’s decision to use this event, instead, as just another political op effectively denies such. The Obama tenet that “no good crisis (should) go to waste” is once again confirmed, and on vivid display.
Many outside our culture – the President obviously included – do not know that our guns are no more or less a part of us than our mainstream Faith, accent, manners, country and gospel music, Cajun and Tex-Mex food, or our ubiquitous displays of American flags and nativity scenes in (real) Christmas observances. Those of other cultures do not understand that our fully functioning brains and hearts long ago taught us to “check our hats and guns at the door” when appropriate.
With our fully functioning hearts and brains, a strong majority of us believe that Constitutionally protected rights like freedom of speech and personal ownership of guns are worthy of our defense. Such is hard-wired.
At his hubris-powered announcement to the nation yesterday, President Obama said, in reference to a painting by seven-year-old Grace McDonnell who had been dispatched to stand near him, “Every time I look at the painting, I think about Grace and I think about the life that she lived and the life that lay ahead of her.” A prominent media source reported that the President was thus reminded that “we must act now.”
For the good of America, and in the memory of the Newtown slain, I deeply wish that Grace McDonnell and her painting really had something – anything – to do with what our president said yesterday. Notwithstanding his need to politick even this horror, I will keep praying that his ego and need to kick ass and take names soon gives way to the kind of leadership America ever more desperately needs.
Meanwhile, of this I am certain: President Obama woefully lacks any semblance of an understanding of the values and culture in America’s heartland. He and his brethren on the political left would do well to meet and reconsider us. With all the risks to the nation they continue to raise, they may well need us someday.
Elliott Stonecipher’s reports and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest. No compensation of any kind has been solicited or accepted for this work. This work is protected, and no other use of it is permitted without the written consent of Mr. Stonecipher.