When I tried to explain to my seventh-grade daughter the details of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, I quickly realized by the semi-engaged look on her face that she knew a tragedy had occurred, but that she didn’t have any context for processing the information. I told her that children were shot and killed by someone with guns who shouldn’t have had them, but that didn’t come close to conveying the carnage and devastation that one person inflicted with a high-powered automatic weapon with ammunition designed to maim and disfigure, as well as kill.
I shouldn’t have been too surprised by the nature of her reaction. We don’t let her watch much cable news, she’s just starting to read the newspaper, and she has no first-hand knowledge about real guns. Her only potentially relatable experience comes from the futuristic weapons she’s seen in Star Wars movies. And maybe that new James Bond flick, as well. So I’m struggling with how to talk with her about what really happened to all those who were murdered in Newtown, because as a newly-minted teen, it’s time to start bringing her in to some adult conversations on this story. I hesitated, then realized I was about her age when I began to focus on what was really going on in Vietnam and what those news images looked like.
Many of us have talked about the Newtown tragedy and have varying positions on the plans just announced by President Obama to make it harder for assault rifles to find their way into the hands of shooters like Adam Lanza and Seung-Hui Cho and James Holmes. But the mother of one of the Sandy Hook victims is questioning just how honest we’re all being if we don’t also include in these debates the actual, horrific wounds that guns like a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle cause.
Veronique Pozner, Noah Pozner’s mother, wants to give us some brutally honest context.
Exactly what did Noah’s mother feel we had to know? That’s what I’m talking about this week at my Spin Cycle column.
Image used with permission from Marie-Claude Duytschaever.