As the tragic details of today’s mass shooting at a Newtown, CT., elementary school began to emerge, the search for perspective began. We here in America are becoming increasingly accustomed to one or more gunmen targeting civilians in public spheres. But it’s troubling to consider our country becoming inured to the death of a child, let alone 20 of them.
Several politicians simply “sent their hearts out” to the victims’ families or, like the White House press secretary Jay Carney, opted to postpone the restart of our National Conversation About Guns, lest it be inappropriate to discuss preventative measures immediately:
“There is, I’m sure, will be, rather, discussion of the usual Washington policy debates. But I don’t think that day is today.”
Perhaps the fact that 20 children lost their lives in that school is why host Melissa Harris-Perry, the mother of a 10-year-old daughter, was one of the voices who wasn’t willing to stay silent until some vague future moment to talk about real change. Harris-Perry spoke about the tragedy on Now with Alex Wagner:
“What I would caution–and I think it’s part of the lesson we learn as parents, and that we also have to learn as a country, vis-á-vis our children–is that we cannot make them safe at all times. And so we have to be careful about the reaction being, ‘Let’s build a moat, and a wall, and a metal detector around our whole worlds.’ We can, however, change the structural realities in which they exist that make them safer because there would be fewer available guns… we can’t exclusively lead with our hearts. We must also lead with our heads as we start thinking about reasonable reactions to this.”
The Newtown school had, according to reports, a check-in desk and a camera to identify those entering the property. So they already had a moat, so to speak, around the children–but one that was not deep enough to contain a 20-year-old shooter allegedly carrying a rifle meant for military combat. How deep must it go before we realize we’re missing the point?
Tomorrow’s edition of Melissa Harris-Perry will be devoted exclusively to coverage of the Newtown school shooting. Tune in to msnbc Saturday at 10am ET.