I didn’t write anything about gun violence during the weeks leading up to what the president called a “shameful day.” I may have not written anything about gun violence ever, period, full stop. Lately, it’s because I can’t even think of the word Newtown without feeling a pang or tremor of rage and misery course through my body. Overall, it’s because I think combatting gun violence is important — and there are laws I wish we’d implement to do it — but that it ultimately requires a broader cultural shift.
Spurred on by Newtown, I think that shift has begun. It’s a long process and it won’t be total; Americans will always have more affinity to firearms than most developed nations. But I believe enough people have been shaken by the horrific massacres, and enough people refuse to experience this carnage as the price we pay for freedom, that further gun violence legislation is inevitable.
None of this, however, makes Wednesdays events any less dispiriting. Or, indeed, shameful. I’m reminded of a famous Camus quote, my personal favorite:
Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children. And if you don’t help us, who else in the world can help us do this?
In late 2012, a psychopath tortured 20 children. In response, American government has done nothing. We’ve decided not to help.