My Thoughts on Sandy Hook

My Thoughts on Sandy Hook

My Thoughts on Sandy Hook

I sat down to write tonight, hoping to put something cohesive together about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary last Friday.  I can’t.  All that I can come up with is a bunch of thoughts simultaneously running through my mind.  Maybe that’s what this post needs to be since my brain isn’t capable of formulating well thought-out paragraphs.  Maybe I just need to get it all out.

I wrote about the usual tropes with mass shootings after the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado.  That post highlighted the pandemic of instability our youngest members of society face in the United States.  Instability, I argued, is the greatest cause of problems among our country’s youth.

Does our country need tighter gun control laws?  No doubt about it.  Will tighter gun control laws save lives?  Logic tells me they will.  Yet, no matter how tight the laws are or how well they are enforced, I believe a mentally unstable person desperate to do others or themselves harm will find a way to find a lethal weapon.  So, the solution extends beyond the gun laws.

We can’t jump to conclusions about any shooter from any of these cases, yet we can observe the parallels and hope to learn something from them.  When classmates, friends, family members, or other acquaintances describe the shooters, their adjectives include: adolescent, male, loner, awkward, isolated, computer geek, goth, average, depressed, quiet, smart, nice, divorced parents, suburban.  Lumped together, these adjectives often do not add up to what the education system considers an “at-risk” kid.  A non-minority child with good to average grades from a middle to middle-upperclass background simply won’t get the attention and resources that the “squeakier wheels” (i.e. children with behavioral outbursts, socioeconomic concerns, learning disabilities) receive.

I do not doubt our country is full of hardworking and sacrificial teachers that give nothing less than their best everyday to their students.  We cannot fault our educators or the education system for allowing these truly at-risk children to “slip through the cracks.”  We need to see what brokenness these children are bringing with them to school that our education system cannot and must not be expected to repair.

Many of these young men come from broken homes and many are raised by single moms.  There are plenty of single parents in this country (most are moms) who are doing a heck of a job raising their children on their own, but I imagine most would concede that it’s not ideal.  Parenting is a tough gig, and there are all kinds of reasons that God designed it to be a tag team effort.  (While we’re at it, parenting used to be an extended family and neighborhood team effort, but we’re talking about moms and dads right now.)  Parenting is supposed to be a mom-dad tag team effort because, no matter how much protesting or hate mail this comment receives, mothers and fathers are not interchangeable, they do not perform the same functions in families, and they and their children need one another to bring their unique gifts to the family.  (In putting my thoughts together, I realized I actually have a lot of thoughts on this topic.  In the interest of staying on-topic, I bunched those thoughts all together into another blog post that I’ll publish another time.)

In the Sandy Hook case, we hear that the shooter’s mother stayed at home with him, homeschooled him for some time after fighting with the school board, and received substantial financial support from the shooter’s father.  The father seems largely forgotten in the scenario while the news and blog comment boxes are full of belligerent comments about the mother.  This is where we see that even a stay at home mother or financial stability is not enough.  We all know it is not always possible because of death, military service, or another reason, but whenever possible (and barring unique situations like abuse), the ideal scenario for a child is living with their mother and father.

As a society, let’s beef up the gun control laws and figure out what makes these shooters “at-risk.”  Let’s examine our mental health diagnostics, procedures, and protocol.  Let’s get these troubled youth the help they need, but let’s not depend on our education system to catch everyone.  Our educators are already overworked, underpaid, and generally expected to raise our country’s children for us.  Let’s look within our own families and ourselves as parents to determine what we can do to be our children’s best advocates.  Let’s create as much stability as possible for our children.  Let’s remember that women and men are not interchangeable, that we need each other, and that we need to work together within the family context to help our children transition healthily into adulthood.  Let’s remember that marriage is a lifelong commitment to one another and any children that we help to create.

Copyright 2012 Catherine Boucher


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  1. Jeanette O'Toole on

    “Let’s remember that marriage is a lifelong commitment to one another and any children that we help to create.” –Catherine Boucher

    Bingo! I’m not in agreement with you regarding gun control, Catherine. We all deserve the right to defend ourselves and our family against harm, but I could not possibly agree with you more regarding family breakdown and how that ill effects the child. Barring abuse, there’s really no reason to permanently separate from the spouse we married… for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, etc. and so on… Great post! Thank you…

    • Thank you for your input, Jeanette. Your comment makes me want to clarify my thoughts on gun control laws. I completely agree that we all have the right to protect ourselves and our families from harm. Aside from the right to defend oneself with a handgun, I also believe private citizens should be able to purchase guns for recreational hunting. However, I believe that there are certain weapons that private citizens should not have access to such as assault weapons with magazines capable of firing off hundreds of clips. I cannot fathom a reason that everyday citizens should have these weapons in their possession.

      As I wrote in my post, I hope our society will come together in acknowledging that even the tightest gun laws or restrictions will not end the trail of mass shootings in this country. I place more blame on the deterioration of the nuclear family and moral relativism. We live in too much isolation–even within our own families, and we need to bring back fraternal correction in a spirit of love.

      • Jeanette O'Toole on

        Thanks for the clarification, Catherine. I liked when you said this: “I place more blame on the deterioration of the nuclear family… We live in too much isolation–even within our own families…”

        A “very saintly” priest we talk with from time to time suggested “Sunday family dinners.” All sounds so simple, doesn’t it, yet this son is racing here, the other one there, but I must admit, given significant time, they “usually” will change plans when they know I am cooking, and…. when they sit down to eat, all that one can hear is the tinkling of silverwear. Makes me smile. No talk, just eating… however, afterwards there’s talking too. 🙂 Feed them; they will come…

  2. One reason why private citizens should have access to assault rifles if they so choose would be the right to protect and defend their family. Governments and militant groups have access to these and could potentially use such weapons to persecute private citizens, towns, cities and nations. It’s happened before and we know that history often repeats itself because we do not learn from it. Powerful weapons are not the problem and we shouldn’t take away or limit the rights of law abiding citizens because some people abuse them. It’s the mental issues that people sometimes have that cause them to find weapons and use them against others in extreme and deadly ways. We cannot ban rocks just because some people stone others.

    Other than that, I agree with you that the instability of the family is key to this problem. Thanks for sharing.

  3. From the Catholic Bishops’ Website:
    The most direct statement comes in the bishops’ “Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice” from November 2000.

    “As bishops, we support measures that control the sale and use of firearms and make them safer — especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children or anyone other than the owner — and we reiterate our call for sensible regulation of handguns.”

    That’s followed by a footnote that states: “However, we believe that in the long run and with few exceptions — i.e. police officers, military use — handguns should be eliminated from our society.”

    That in turn reiterates a line in the bishops’ 1990 pastoral statement on substance abuse, which called “for effective and courageous action to control handguns, leading to their eventual elimination from our society.”

    And as Pope Benedict wrote: Every person “is called to disarm his own heart and be a peacemaker everywhere,”

    • I agree with the Bishops that a world without guns is the ideal. However, having guns doesn’t mean that owners intend to go around committing murder or other crimes. We have to keep in mind that sometimes some military personnel or police or whoever might have access due to their career can and some have had mental issues that caused them to commit crimes with the weapons they had.

      This IS a disturbing conversation – but the reason for it is because we live in a horribly fallen world.

      Consider the crimes that are not committed because intended victims were armed. No one believes that children or criminals should have guns. The fact is that people kill people – not guns.

  4. Katie I so disagree – so are you then giving up on abortion because we live in a fallen world? Over and over again Jesus taught us not to be afraid – to trust and believe in God – not weapons. This is my Catholic faith.

  5. I would never, EVER give up on abortion. And I don’t give up on hope that people will stop murdering each other. Would you allow a gun if it saved someone from being forced to abort their child?

    Think of the Cristeros. They had to fight against the persecution of the Church with guns – against a government allowed to have guns. There is nothing anti Catholic about owning a gun.

  6. Pat Archbold’s post “The Catholic Position on Gun Control” on the National Catholic Register offers all of us some great perspective on the issue.

    “The person who disagrees with you on this is not your enemy. They love their children and the children of others just the same as you. Treat them with respect. Argue with them. Try to sway them. And listen to them. But in all things, treat them with respect. Treat them with love. If we do that, no matter how the debate turns out, we will have helped a little.”

    Here is the link to the original post:

  7. BTW, your last name is the name of a famous Loyalist Protestant Minister in Colonial America. Great name! Are you related?

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