A deadly lack of conscience
“No set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.”
So said President Obama in words of comfort in Newtown. The president was right to speak of evil, but mistaken when he called the massacre “senseless.”
For this was a premeditated and purposeful act of mass murder, and the devil that did it knew exactly what he was doing and why.
When he put four bullets into his mother's head while she lay in bed, Adam Lanza wanted her life ended along with his. When he headed for Sandy Hook Elementary, with the handguns and Bushmaster rifle, he knew he would encounter no armed resistance.
Before he went into that school to shoot children, he knew his slaughter would be so stomach-turning and heart-wrenching that the TV crews would come running. And by day's end, Adam Lanza would be world famous.
Just as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Columbine are famous. Just as James Holmes, the “Joker” of the Aurora “Dark Knight Rising” massacre, is famous. Just as Jared Lee Loughner, the Tucson mass murderer who shot Gabby Giffords, is famous.
A desire to be famous coupled with a dead conscience is the common thread running through these recurring atrocities. These loners and losers want us to know who they are.
Since the news first came in Friday from Newtown, we have argued about guns in America and mental illness, but heard little about the moral sickness of our society. We are told these atrocities are growing more frequent and deadly because the guns used — especially assault rifles — are all too available.
But the guns used in the Sandy Hook massacre were legally purchased by Lanza's mother, and she and Adam lived in a state with some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
And the Bushmaster is not a machine gun but a semi-automatic. Fully automatic weapons like the Thompson submachine gun cannot be purchased without a federal license. No fully automatic weapon has been used in any of these massacres.
Will ending all sales and transfers of assault rifles and limiting the rounds in clips and magazines reduce these massacres? Did it succeed when the assault weapons ban was in force in the Clinton years?
If assault rifles are evil things that ought not be in the hands of decent Americans, why do “shoot-to-kill” video games feature these weapons? Why does Hollywood glamorize assault rifles in action-packed films of slaughter starring Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris and Jason Statham?
Are the folks who think America would be a better place with a more restrictive Second Amendment willing to restrict the First Amendment to stop distribution of movies and cable shows that depict famous actors blasting enemies with assault weapons?
Not long ago, there existed in our hearts “a fear of God.” How, we would ask ourselves, if we commit an evil act like murder, will we answer at God's judgment seat?
But if God is dead, not to worry. Just put the gun to your head and pull the trigger, and it's over. No trial. No disgrace. No prison. Nothing to worry about anymore.
No voice of conscience told Adam: Do not do this evil thing! Now he is no longer a nobody, a nerd, a recluse. He is famous. Everybody is talking about him and ruminating on what might have motivated him.
Adam wanted to be somebody. And now he is.
And out there others like him are thinking: That could be me.
Pat Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Crosby, Malkin didn’t sign on for this
- Penguins’ Malkin: ‘We’re not a championship team’
- First Amendment experts decry Plum authorities’ warning to students
- Penguins eliminated with Game 5 overtime loss to Rangers
- Fleury valiant in defeat
- Cole shuts down Diamondbacks as Pirates open road trip with victory
- Former Olympian Bruce Jenner comes out as transgender: ‘I am a woman’
- All Pennsylvanians to pay more, GOP gleans from report on Wolf’s tax plan
- Death toll from Nepal earthquake reaches at least 876
- Rangers’ defensive plan against Penguins was unwavering
- 2 Hempfield Area students charged with sexting