C.W. Gusewell

THE KANSAS CITY STAR

Unspeakable horror cries out for change

The column originally scheduled to appear today in this space was withdrawn, at my request – possibly to be published at a later date or simply discarded.

That piece concerned drama at the family cabin that seemed to deserve comment, but which has been reduced to irrelevance by the terrible events Friday in the small Connecticut community of Newtown.

Tens of thousands of words will surely be spent in an effort to fully describe the horror of what transpired at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The attempt to convey the senselessness of the crime, or convey the struggle of survivors to go forward from unspeakable loss, will test the ability of journalism to explain or comfort.

The writing of commentary – as distinct from reportage – has occupied the last 33 of my 57 years in journalism. And I have sometimes heard my column described by readers as “a vacation from the news.” I’ve taken that as a compliment.

But what happened in Connecticut two days ago is news from which no vacation is possible or permissible.

I’ve admired journalists whose careers have put them on the front lines of the craft – covering wars and revolutions, great natural calamities and the like.

Mine has been a far safer passage. And I feel for those colleagues whose duty it has been to observe first-hand and describe the pain of such an event as this school shooting

For, even as witnesses, they must surely be wounded, too.

If there’s any redeeming consolation to be found, it is that the lethal curse of poorly regulated and irresponsible gun ownership has once again been demonstrated with a clarity that no decent American can dispute.

Let it be plainly said: Any politician at any level of public life who lacks the nerve to declare his or her support for rational firearms control is a coward undeserving of office.

I own sporting guns, and I find utterly absurd the paranoid notion that the government intends to come take them from me. And I would be happy to register them by make and serial number with any legitimate agency that asked.

In my view, the most credible threat to my Second Amendment rights is posed by Wayne LaPierre and his cohorts on the fanatical fringe of the National Rifle Association, a once constructive organization they have transformed into a dedicated enemy of the public good.