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Sandy Hook, Guns and Mental Illness

The Sandy Hook Massacre is both sad and complicated bringing up issues of mental illness and access to guns.

It felt strange this weekend to read the influx of holiday cards with messages of Peace, Joy, Love and Miracles. The cards lay on the table next to the front page of the newspaper splashed with headlines of Horror, Fear and Grief.

By now, we all know the story of how a 20-year-old man used his mother’s guns to shoot her in the face, then drove her car to an elementary school and killed 20 first-graders and seven adults. We are all searching for the answer to the question, “Why?” to explain the incomprehensible. The events are confusing, sad and complicated.

There are many prisms through which this tragedy is being viewed and analyzed, from the obvious — access to combat arms – to the more subtle workings of a disturbed mind.  We write our blog about the everyday worries of frazzled moms, including fear for our children’s well-being. You can bet that shooter Adam Lanza’s mom was beyond frazzled dealing with a mentally ill child.

It is painful to think about the parents in Newtown, Connecticut frantically waiting for news about the fate of their loved ones in the hours after the shooting. The image of families being isolated to receive the news, followed by wails that could be heard outside the building is not easily forgotten.

The magnitude makes us numb.

A line from the old Christmas Carol, God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen, kept popping into my head as I wondered where in the aftermath families would find “…tidings of comfort and joy.”

I found some solace reflecting on the actions of three extraordinary brave women at Sandy Hook Elementary. The school’s principal and psychiatrist were killed trying to tackle the gunman. A 27-year-old teacher was slaughtered when she hid her pupils in a closet and told the gunman the students were in the gym. The  students survived. It is horrible that the families of these adults will also be grieving but astonishing to see humanity rise to such a level in the split seconds when it really mattered.

A former family babysitter is now a young mother and elementary school teacher. After cuddling with her two-year-old Sunday evening, she posted, “I am hoping that all parents out there know that I, along with ALL other teachers, have and will always have the safety of your child as our top priority.” Tidings of comfort and joy.

For further reading:

Mothering a mentally ill child: am Adam Lanza’s Mother

Coping with fear over a child’s safety:  Let Go and Live

Mother of a murdered child: Mother of the Tried

Helping Children Cope with the News: How to Help Children Cope with a Crisis

My colleague and friend, Linda Williams Rorem and I write a weekly blog, Permissionslips. You can click here to read more. Carol Lewis Gullstad . You can write to us at permissionslips1@gmail.com


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Megan Hand December 19, 2012 at 05:25 PM
My mind just keeps going to this question -- Why would a mother of a socially challenged child collect guns in the first place? I get she has the right to collect guns, but she also has a responsibility to lock them up in a gun safe. Has there been any reporting on the mother's lack of attention to keeping her gun collection under lock? How can we ask the government to change things when citizens don't do the right thing in the first place?

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