EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 31, 2013

Column: We cannot let time soften the impact of Newtown

As I’m writing, the serenity of the setting — near Harold Parker state forest — and the moment — Sunday morning — is punctuated by the distant crack of gun shots. This is ever present. While it diminishes at times there is no “season” when it ceases altogether; no season when the cracking stops, allowing the sounds of the forest to settle into a natural rhythm.

I rarely notice the shooting from the gun club anymore and that is an unsettling reminder of the world we live in. It’s the things that we don’t take notice of that are the texture and fabric of our lives — the subliminal definers of the culture we have created.

Americans seem to have concupiscent attraction, an almost erotic fascination with guns and the culture they have spawned. One measure of the passion of this embrace is a willingness to tolerate if not accept both the intentional and unintentional consequences that follow when a trigger is pulled.

For a long time I was unable to leave the horrific image of Newtown unattended in my mind. As humans we are tempted to deal with violence as an abstraction and insulate ourselves from the flesh and blood horror of children being slaughtered. I needed to push it into a subconscious oblivion. I needed time and distance to even think much less write about it. And that is part of the problem. This is the same passage of the time and quest for emotional distance that the NRA counts on and exploits.

The NRA conflates straw man and slippery slope arguments and clings to vacuous reflexive mantras hoping they will frame any discussion of gun control. However, the NRA seems to recognize that Newtown could be the point of inflection that changes the arc of the discussion. While in the past they have depended on the passage of time to dissipate the resolve of Americans, they have not simply relied on this to quell the outrage over Newtown.

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