In the Shadow of One Gunman


By Will Kavanagh ’13

The tragedy that has torn the quiet New England town of Newtown, Connecticut is one that has sent shockwaves across America and around the world. Chaos is the word that comes mind when thinking about the reports that came out of Sandy Hook Elementary School yesterday as a Adam Lanza, age 20, reportedly entered the school with two handguns and a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle and killed 20 young children, the principal, the school psychologist, and a few teachers before turning his weapon on himself. This event was merely the latest in a series of horrific school shootings in the past 15 years, but perhaps it is the most terrifying because of who the victims were: innocent children.

When I woke up yesterday and discovered that this massacre had transpired, the ship had already sailed on people respecting a brief period of national mourning before taking political advantage. Social media flooded with posts from people on both sides of the gun control issue, not even waiting until the victims were identified, let alone laid to rest. After watching a tear-stricken President Obama give an incredibly-moving speech about this tragedy and how we must love one another, I witnessed people accusing the President of faking his tears for political purposes, which is an absolutely disgusting accusation. I had intended to wait until Monday before weighing in on the issue of gun control, but something happened today that changed my mind.

I am a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin’s White House drama series The West Wing and have been since I was an elementary school student myself. Last year, I was blessed to received the complete series on DVD, and I have gone through every episode a couple of times since then. Recently, I began to watch the full series for a third time and today, I reached the final episode of the first season, entitled “What Kind of Day Has It Been?” In this episode, the fictional President Josiah Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, is attacked by two gunmen as he leaves an auditorium in Virginia. Bartlet is struck by a bullet in the lower abdomen, while his Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Lyman, is hit in the chest and an innocent bystander named Stephanie Abbott is hit in the leg. The second episode of the following season, entitled “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part II,” White House Press Secretary CJ Cregg, played by Allison Janney, delivers a very poignant message that I believe resonates with any gun-related tragedy that has gripped our nation in recent memory, especially when you consider that President Kennedy was killed by a determined gunman oh so many years ago. I urge you to reflect upon the words that Aaron Sorkin crafted for Allison Janney when Monday rolls around and we can begin to tackle the issue of gun control in this nation.

“This is our 5th press briefing since midnight. Obviously, there’s one story that going dominating news around the world for the next few days, and it would be easy to think that President Bartlet, Joshua Lyman, and Stephanie Abbott were the only victims of a gun crime last night. They weren’t. Mark Davis and Sheila Evans of Philadelphia were killed by a gun last night. He was a Biology Teacher and she was a Nursing student. Tina Bishop and Linda Larkin were killed with a gun last night. They were 12. There were 36 homicides last night. 480 sexual assaults, 3,411 robberies, 3,685 aggravated assaults, all at gunpoint. And if anyone thinks those crimes could have been prevented if the victims themselves had been carrying guns, I’d only remind you that the President of the United States himself was shot last night while surrounded by the best trained armed guards in the history of the world.”

While the issue of gun control is a very complicated one which requires extensive debate, I will say this: arming the schools is not the answer. Disarming the population is not a reasonable solution. A determined individual or group will always find a way to inflict pain upon others if they feel that is what they need to do in order to right perceived past wrongs. Love is the answer. Treat your neighbors with respect and compassion, love your family, and do good unto others.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

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