I don’t have a lot to say about Newtown, and I’m sure I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t already been said. I don’t tend to be very insightful about these sorts of things. And also, I just couldn’t. I just couldn’t.
The day it happened, I was exhausted (damn gluten!). I was getting into bed to take a nap when I got a New York Times news alert saying there was a school shooting. My thought was not “Sweet Jesus! How could this have happened? I must read about it immediately!” It was “Oh, fuck. Not another one. I don’t have the energy to read about this now.” And so I went to bed. And when I woke up, my friend Lisa was on my porch, looking traumatized. She told me what happened, and I went inside and got on the Internet. I spent the afternoon with my iPad, under a blanket, intermittently crying. Peeta just thought I was crying from my gluten stabbing, so he didn’t question anything, fortunately. Noodle kept coming over to pat me on the arm and then run away.
The whole thing, like any mass shooting, was disturbing on every level. For me, the thing that was almost the most disturbing was my own reaction to the news update. In any normal country, this would be horrifying, breaking news (which it was here, to be sure), but it was so commonplace that I wasn’t even surprised. Yup, another day, another shooting. Time for my nap. Maybe that says more about me than it does about America, but I still maintain that it’s fucked up that a school shooting doesn’t even elicit surprise anymore. I lived in England during Columbine and it was shocking and horrific and awful, but I was in another country and I didn’t connect with it all personally.
But now, I have a 7-year-old and a 2-year-old. My son goes to a public school. The thought of a gunman coming into his school is almost too much to bear. We ended up telling him about it because friends of ours told their son, who is a close friend of his, and we didn’t want him to hear it from someone else. He was surprisingly practical about it all. We told him not to worry, that his teachers would take care of him and the doors at his school are locked. “Mama,” he said, “if someone has a gun, it doesn’t matter if the doors are locked.” Yes, my son. You are correct.
I don’t know why it happened, and that is the most terrifying part. Maybe it was his mother’s fault. Maybe it was his father’s fault. Maybe he was crazy. Maybe he was evil. Maybe he played violent video games. Maybe it was a horrific combination of all of it. What I do know is that it shouldn’t have been that easy for him to get those guns. And God, oh God, those kids. And those parents. And those teachers. And that principal. And God oh God oh God.
It’s been more than a month now and all sorts of people are buying shitloads of guns and the NRA wants people to carry guns because the Secret Service has them and everything’s gone crazy. I told Peeta that maybe the good thing–the only good thing–to come of this will that it will be harder for people to get guns.
Meanwhile, Peeta had his first practice lockdown at school today. A FUCKING PRACTICE LOCKDOWN. Because that’s the world we live in now, folks. My second grader has to practice hiding in a closet and being quiet in case some murderous lunatic comes to his school with a gun. And I have nothing to say about that.