Nancy Lanza, mother of the gunman and his first victim this morning, was a lovely person. I have friends in the area (all of whom were good friends of hers), and am around there a lot (in fact, I was there just last night, when the town was characteristically peaceful). I didn't know her well, but one memory keeps replaying tonight.
A mutual friend was in trouble, and I'd driven up to Newtown to discuss a loan. It wasn't for a ton of money, but more than just a few bucks. We discussed drawing up a letter of agreement, and that I'd hold the title to his little sailboat as collateral. Nancy overheard the discussion, and, unblinkingly, told him she'd just write him a check then and there. While I'm far from the most generous guy in the world, it's not often that I feel stingy. But I learned something from that. I should have just written him the check. She was right.
I never really befriended Nancy, though we exchanged greetings whenever we crossed paths. What held me back was my impression that she was a little high-strung. But now that I've been filled in by friends about how difficult her troubled son (the shooter) was making things for her, I understand that it wasn't that Nancy was overwrought about the trivialities of everyday life, but that she was handling a very difficult situation with uncommon grace. Plus, she was a big fan of my trombone playing. My next jazz solo's for you, Nancy.
Other scattered thoughts:
Whenever the press reports on something I'm familiar with or close to, it's painfully obvious how much they get wrong. I've been hearing nonsense from major media all day. The info I received via text message from friends early today was much higher quality than press reporting even hours later.
Speaking of which, if I read one more report about the shooting in "suburban Connecticut", I'll scream. This is a small town, not a suburb. It is, in fact, pretty much the Platonic form of a small town - which makes the events that much more horrific.
I'm in favor of gun control, but as a devout civil libertarian, I'm susceptible to the guns-don't-kill-people-people-kill-people argument. I want the government to exercise extreme restraint in determining what's too dangerous for people to do or to own. But, y'know, we (quite properly) don't allow people to own anti-aircraft guns, or tanks, or lots of other deadly instruments, though that same argument could apply. And while I understand the slippery slope perils of government intervention, human beings are just too damned crazy for guns to be so freely and easily available.
Finally, it really infuriates me to hear right wingers, at times like this, insist that "this is not the time to discuss gun control". I remember how, during the worst of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Mitch McConnell said the same thing: this is not the time to discuss regulating deep water drilling. Was September, 2001, not the time to discuss counterattacks on al-Qaeda? Was Katrina not the time to discuss levee engineering in Louisiana? I respect those whose opinions on guns differ from mine. But people taking this particular tack are loathsome.
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