Steve Cotler

Steve Cotler

Guns, Evil, and Insanity

After the Newtown tragedy, Connecticut’s Gov. Dan Malloy said, “Evil visited this community today.” But Adam Lanza was not evil. He was insane. Beyond this obvious assertion, I have nothing special or unique to add. But two women do. One is my daughter, Julia Quinn, a wise and caring individual. The other is Liza Long, a Boise-based writer and the mother of a mentally ill teen.

My daughter is a well-known and very successful author with tens of thousands of fans. Here is what she posted on her author Facebook page today:

I grew up in Connecticut, very close to Newtown, and I have friends whose (now grown) children attended Sandy Hook Elementary School. I haven’t posted anything about the shooting until now because I was simply too shattered all weekend. It doesn’t make it worse that it happened near my childhood home; this is a tragedy for all Americans. But having walked through those streets, having attended a Christmas party around the corner from where Adam Lanza would eventually live… the sorrow is pulled just a little closer to my heart.

I have never posted anything political while in my author persona; I do not think politics belong in my books or in this forum. But I don’t think that the safety of our children should be a political issue. We as Americans must do more to address access to to mental health care and gun safety and legislation. I know that many will disagree with me, but I plan to write to my congressman and senators to voice my support for a ban on assault weapons.

What I hope for America is that those who share my conviction and those who don’t are able to talk to one another in a reasonable manner. We all want a safer, kinder society, and this begins with civil discourse.

Here is the lead-in to and beginning of Ms. Long’s essay:

Friday’s horrific national tragedy—the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut—has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

Read the rest of Ms. Long’s powerful essay here.

One Comment

  1. sheila says:

    you are a very bravewoman and i commend you. i worked in several mental hospitals and i’ve seen the d.isease. but for you to live with, try to reason with,worry worryt every moment of the day–you are strong…..best wishes

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