Home > Finding Safety After Sandy Hook

Finding Safety After Sandy Hook

from the December 18, 2012 eNews issue
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Students in Newtown, Connecticut returned to class on Tuesday, excepting the ones who once attended Sandy Hook Elementary. Those students will resume classes in January after Christmas break, but they will still not be attending the building where the shooting occurred. Eight miles away, Chalk Hill School - closed just last year - has been reopened and is being prepared for their arrival. The smell of fresh paint will greet the children, along with their old desks and crayon boxes, offering them a fresh start away from the terrifying memories of December 14th.

December 14th? Has it been only four days?

Since Friday, the United States and its neighbors have wrestled with the implications of the shooting - have grasped at possible ways to approach the issue, to prepare themselves so that nothing like this ever happens again. Gun control? Greater help for the mentally troubled? Banning violent video games? Hiding in the mountains away from all society?

How do we handle this?

Adam Lanza not only caused damage by murdering 27 people last Friday and killing himself, he blew holes in America's sense of security. Sandy Hook Elementary existed in a nice, quiet town in Connecticut, not in the inner city, not in a war zone. Lanza caused parents across the entire country to question whether they should ever send their little children to school again.

No Safe Place:
A series of massacres have taken place over just the past two years in a wide variety of locations, increasing the sense that there is no place free from danger.

Shopping Mall in Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands: On April 9, 2011, Tristan van der Vlis, 24, shot and killed six people at the Ridderhof mall, making it the deadliest attack in the Netherlands since the royal family was attacked in 2009.

Summer Camp on the island of Utoya in Tyrifjorden, Buskerud, Norway: On July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik shot at least 179 people at a youth camp, killing 69 of them. This was hours after Breivik detonated a car bomb in Oslo that killed eight and injured another 209 people.

Hair Salon in Seal Beach, CA: On Oct 12, 2011, Scott Dekraai, 41, shot eight people both in and outside a hair salon where his ex-wife worked.

Christian School in Oakland, CA: On April 2, 2012, One L. Goh, 43, shot and killed seven students at Oikos University, a small Korean Christian college.

Movie Theater in Aurora, CO: On July 20, 2012, James Eagan Holmes, 24, killed 12 people and injured 58 others during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.

Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, WI: August 5, 2012, Wade Michael Page shot six people a Sikh temple.

Now, we have an attack on an elementary school.

Each murderer had his own motivation. Breivik had extreme nationalistic, racist views. Dekraai had anger over a custody battle with his ex-wife. Goh felt he had been disrespected by other students. Nobody truly knows what motivated Adam Lanza to murder 20 children and their teachers, but it doesn't really matter. No reason is good enough.

How do we fight this then? How do we stop future murders from taking place?

Blaming The Guns:
The Sandy Hook shooting has led many to push for greater gun control.

Californian Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein wants to ban new assault weapons sales and outlaw the sales of big clips, drums and strips that contain more than 10 bullets. White House Press Secretary Jay Carn said stricter gun control laws would be only one part of the solution.

Increasing the red tape around gun sales won't solve the problem, though. Adam Lanza broke a multitude of laws that day, including the state's gun laws. He didn't have a permit for the guns he'd stolen from his mother, who had obtained them legally. At 20-years-old, he wasn't even old enough to legally own a gun. Gun control laws have rarely kept guns out of the hands of those who want to use them. They merely make it trickier for people to own them legally, and honest people still do use guns to protect themselves against intruders and attackers.

Even if every gun were removed from the planet, though, that wouldn't solve the problem. The evidence indicates that men like Breivik, Holmes, and Lanza planned their destruction in advance. They plotted and strategized. Their goal was to slaughter other human beings, and guns are not required to do that.

To underline this point, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting wasn't the worst massacre at an elementary school in U.S. history. It was the second most deadly. In 1927, at a time before today's gun control laws, the school board treasurer Andrew Kehoe felt grieved over losing the 1926 town clerk election in Bath Township, Michigan. He spent the next year collecting and hiding dynamite and pyrotol in preparation for his perceived revenge.

On May 18, 1927, massive amounts of explosives detonated under the north wing of the Bath School, killing 38 children and six adults and injuring 58 others. Hundreds of pounds of explosives were found in the basement under the south wing as well, revealing Kehoe's plan to blow up the entire school and everybody in it. After the school explosion, Kehoe drove up and detonated himself inside his shrapnel-filled truck, killing and injuring additional people.

Blaming Mental Health And Insanity:
The school shooting has also brought mental health issues into the public discussion. In the next session, Connecticut state lawmakers will likely consider legislation to improve mental health care for children thought to be a danger to themselves and others. State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said he expects the state legislature to consider "enhanced mental health intervention" for troubled individuals in the state.

"The discussion really has to come around to how are we going to begin to look at mental health services as something that are necessary and valuable and how are we going to fund them," said George Estle, CEO of a Grand Rapids-based treatment facility for behavioral and psychiatric disorders.

Adam Lanza allegedly had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a relative of autism, and the possible neglect of persons with mental disorders has been considered a possible remedy to public violence. The Autism Society has issued a statement rejecting any connection between autism and violence, however, reiterating that children with autism-related conditions may be socially awkward, but are more prone to be victims than victimizers. Regardless of whether or not he had autistic tendencies, the assumption here is that Lanza murdered those children because he was mentally ill. Certainly nobody would slaughter a classroom of first graders if they were fully sane.

We should certainly seek to help people struggling with severe emotional and psychological struggles. Absolutely. It is important to remember, however, that plenty of sane people do evil things every day, and plenty of depressed, angry people reject murder as an option. It is also important to remember that millions of struggling but perfectly sane women choose to murder their children every year. They do it before the little innocents ever get a first school picture taken, and nobody suggests the mothers are nuts because they do it.

At the same time, the fact that Lanza committed suicide indicates that he knew he had done a horrific, unlawful thing. Had he truly been out of his mind - had he believed he were actually killing Nazis or dangerous space aliens - he would have expected approval from society. But, he didn't. He was sane enough to believe that death was the best way out for him.

True Safety:
In the end, there is no safe place in this world. Between earthquakes and hurricanes, fires and tornadoes, poor engineering and math errors and, worst of all, evil decisions made by us and our fellow humans, we're all in constant danger. This planet is not a safe place.

With one exception.

There is a God in Heaven who loves us, who deeply, powerfully, constantly loves us, and in Him alone we can find safety. He doesn't promise that we won't have troubles, but He does promise to be with us (Heb. 13:5-6). He doesn't say we won't be attacked or slighted, that we will win every custody battle or like how our local politics is working, but we do know He's overcome the world (John 16:33).

Paul, who faced many struggles throughout his life, reminds us in Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

To them that love God. Nothing will get to us without His permission. Nothing can hurt us that He doesn't filter. "He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler." - Psalm 91:4

He won't drop us. Not on our lives. Unconditionally trusting Him is the key. "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:" Job said (Job 13:15). People who rest their hearts in God's love and faithfulness, entrusting their lives to Him, these are the ones that can go to the mall and movie theater and elementary schools, drive through snowstorms or walk through the jungle, and be truly secure.


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Related Links:

  •   Plans To Return Sandy Hook Students To School Postponed - Digital First Media
  •   Deadliest U.S. Mass Shootings - Los Angeles Times
  •   Gun Control Debate Simmers After Sandy Hook Massacre - AP
  •   Mental Health Providers Push Funding, Access After Sandy Hook Shootings - KCRG TV-9
  •   Connecticut Legislature's Upcoming Session To Focus On Gun Control, Mental Health Treatment - New Haven Register
  •   1927 School Bombing Resurfaces In Wake Of Sandy Hook Shooting Aftermath - International Business Times
  •   More Than Eighty Years Later, Remembering the Deadliest School Massacre in American History - Slate
  •   Nancy Lanza, Gunman's Mother: From 'Charmed Upbringing' To First Victim - NPR