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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lost Children and The Geese of Smithville ...

Lost Children and The Geese of Smithville ...

There is a gaggle of pure white geese, beautiful and peaceful, that waddle in the road at the Smithville corner, forcing bemused drivers to sit out the green light waiting for the geese to decide whether to finish crossing the road or take a vote on the idea. I can’t resist chuckling at the sight. They make me think of the United States Senate when they stop in such splendid indifference to the rest of us. It may frustrate a driver here and there, but to me it is a sight of beauty. Proving, I suppose, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
But I don’t know and cannot imagine through what sort of eyes Nancy Lanza of Sandy Hook, Connecticut, beheld her collection of guns. She must have seen something beautiful and comforting in her Bushmaster assault rifle, close cousin to the AK47. Perhaps she was responding to some mysterious allure of form, of sinister metal, of its unmistakable lethality. She bought it legally and openly, registered it, kept it handy in her home, and kept nearby a fulsome supply of ammunition – hundreds of bullets, because it and her handguns, the Sig Sauer and the 9mm Glock, can fire 5 to 10 bullets every second. From time to time she practiced with them; even took her troubled son out to practice shooting them. To her, that collection was a thing of beauty. Private beauty, which she shared only with her sons and, occasionally, some friend or other for whom, however, she brought a piece outside to be admired, it not being part of her ritual to allow others into her home.

As I watched the geese of Smithville and the beauty of their parade, I wondered what strange perversion of the love of beauty moved her to collect such grisly items. Which of us has not cherished something that touched our inner selves? For some it is old books; for others little figurines or postal stamps. But for Nancy Lanza it was firepower; enough firepower to defend her home against Voldemort, Sauron, a platoon of Marines, or whatever dark fantasy haunted her dreams. Of course, it matters not what she cherished; the choice of what to collect is ours, and as Americans we brook little interference with our hobbies. Nor will we surrender our right to protect ourselves. As she told her sister-in-law, Nancy Lanza believed in being “prepared for the worst.”

She had powerful friends in that regard. The strongest lobby in Washington, a Congress replete with misguided fools and political cowards, and an endless roster of self-promoting media “analysts” and “contributors” ready to go on television at a moment’s notice to defend her right to buy, own and operate the military-style high-speed assault rifle and handguns that spew bullets faster than the eye can blink to shoot the 6 and 7 year old kindergarten kids and those brave teachers who threw their own bodies into that remorseless line of fire trying to save the kids.

She wanted to be prepared for the worst, but the worst was beyond even her imagination. According to CBS, her son shot her in the head. Four times. I wonder if she realized in those last moments as her son used her deadliest gun to blast her into eternity just how much evil she had enabled to satisfy her damn foolishness.
The newspapers and TV stations are filled with talk about the need to understand such things as the rumored mental illness that drove her son to kill those little children. She herself evidently came to fear her son. But all he was meant nothing until she changed his potential for mass murder into his capacity for mass murder by acquiring weapons designed, manufactured, sold and legalized for their unique ability to pump bullets out faster and faster. Some of those 7 year olds died with 10 such bullets in their small bodies. On what possible grounds do these weapons exist outside of controlled military armories? And on what possible grounds do we excuse the servile politicians and the cynical gun industry executives and lobbyists who insure such weapons are more coddled than our children?

If there is to be serious examination of the causes of this horror, do not start and stop with the boy who had his finger on the trigger. Start with his mother, and do not stop until you have reached the last link in that long chain of fearmongers who plant and nourish such terrible harvests as Sandy Hook.

© 2012 Joseph T. Wilkins

Joe Wilkins is a semi-retired lawyer and former municipal judge who lives in Smithville, NJ. He is the author of  "The Speaker Who Locked up the House", an acclaimed historical novel about Congress set in the Washington of 1890, and "The Skin Game and other Atlantic City capers", a richly comic account of the stick-up of an illegal card game as Atlantic City casino age began. To buy Joe’s books, invite him to talk to your group, or send him your comments, you can email him at, visit his website at or catch his author's page on Facebook.

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