How could the horrifying tragedy in Connecticut happen? I am afraid it is all too simple.
There are 3 main factors:
1. People have an instinctive need to be important. In some people this gets grossly distorted.
2. In out culture, the way to be seen as important is to be covered by the news media. The media will give coverage to a monster as readily as to a hero.
3. Powerful semi-automatic firearms with large magazines are readily available.
The human race is a social species, and almost everybody wants other people to think of them as important or significant somehow. Most people keep this need within reasonable limits. Most Kossacks would like to be on the rec list, but this desire does not cause anyone to do anything dangerous. A few people have such a strong need that it is more important than life itself to them. People are not all the same. In some people the desire to be noticed is combined with little or no sense of morality, and importance is a greater desire than life itself. Being important by being feared is just as good to some people as being important for being good or useful. I think people like the 911 hijackers and the Columbine killers, and many assassins or would be assassins, are motivated in this way.
In our culture media can make a person important. The media is indifferent to the morality of the people it elevates. Our culture has deteriorated to the point where professional bullies like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly are highly paid media figures. A criminal who commits a big enough crime becomes an instant celebrity. To some extent, this has always been true. But modern media with its 24 hour a day news channels and countless Internet sites has amplified this far beyond what it has ever been in the past. I wonder how many of these sorts of crimes would happen if they were never mentioned in the media, or just barely mentioned for the record, with no naming of the perpetrator. I don't know what to do about this situation, but I am convinced it is a factor.
The last factor is the powerful guns so easily available today. When the 2nd Amendment was written, the most powerful personal firearms were muzzle loading single shot flintlocks. One shot, and a long time to reload. Now you can get semi-automatic pistols with standard magazines of 17 shots, and drum magazines with 50 or more shots are available. Many people have noted the knife attack on children in China, where the victims were only wounded, not killed. A gun is far deadlier than a knife.
To some, these guns are a fetish. If you don't believe this, just go to a supermarket magazine rack and look at some of the gun magazines there. Some of the articles touted on the covers make it sound like gunfights are a common occurrence that everyone needs to be ready for. I am frightened that this could become to some extent a self fulfilling prophecy.
I'm not sure what to do about these things, but we have to try to figure some things out. Anyone who says we should not politicize these tragedies is basically saying that we should not do anything to stop them.