Details are obviously still emerging, but it appears that perhaps nearly 20 people, including many young children, were murdered in cold blood today in Connecticut by a man wielding a semi-automatic gun of some sort.
Initial reports are that many shots were fired. The shooter is also apparently among the dead.
Meanwhile, eerily enough, in China today is a strikingly similar story. Apparently a knife attack at a primary school in Henan province wounded 22 children and an adult. The attacker is in custody.
Hard not to draw parallels between these two stories.
Both crimes are despicable, reprehensible, and the very worst of humanity. To kill an innocent child is to descend to the very lowest place of human existence, as far as I'm concerned.
And certainly the victims of the attack in China deserve all our thoughts and prayers as well, and that attacker deserves to face a trial and appropriate justice.
However, it's hard to look at each story and not wonder what the results might have been like in Connecticut if the attacker there had had to make do with a knife rather than a gun. If he'd had to rush his victims and get close enough to them to physically stab them rather than being able to indiscriminately fire at them from across rooms and down hallways. How many more of the children whose lives ended tragically today might have survived, albeit with injuries? Would the attacker have been able to end his life and escape the penalties for these crimes as easily? Would the tragedy have been carried out at all?
It goes without saying that gun laws in China are extremely strict. The linked article above even notes that after a spate of knife attacks in some areas in recent years, laws were put in place requiring some form of identification and registration if you wanted to purchase a large knife!
Look: I know it's never, ever, ever, ever ok to discuss gun laws in this country. But when the media is presented with such a ready-made comparison I hold out some hope that some outlets will pick it up and put it before the public for examination. No one wants this to be a communist state. No one wants knife licenses. But too often anyone advocating for stricter gun laws is told that they won't solve anything. Killers will still find a way, we're always told. Keeping guns away from law-abiding people won't translate into fewer gun crimes, we're always told.
Look at these two stories side-by-side -- same day -- and tell me that.
Tell that to these parents. Ask them if they'd rather have their child alive and in surgery right now to replace a stab wound rather than dead.
Evil exists. But weapons matter.
These folks are all in my prayers. Incomprehensible.
11:49 AM PT: Tragically we're now hearing that the death toll is perhaps closer to 30, and that indeed most victims were children -- probably kindergartners. As the parent of three young children myself this is hard to even process. Let us do more than say prayers and send flowers in the wake of this massacre, important as those gestures may be. Let us try to courageously fix this problem and save future lives.