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“What is everyone talking about on the news, Daddy? What’s a Sandy Hook?”
“Um. Well, honey, it’s a school.”
“For little kids? Like the one I go to?”
“Yes, honey, like the one you go to. This time the shooting killed a bunch of children; that’s why everyone is so upset.”
“What happened?”
“Well, honey, a man took some guns and decided to kill himself and a bunch of othet people. Including a bunch of little children he didn’t even know. And… his own mom.”
“But why? Why would anyone do that?”
“We don’t know yet. He didn’t say, and he’s dead now. But usually when something like this happens — and it’s been happening more lately than it seems like it used to — it’s because the killer was sad and angry.”
“Sad and angry?”
“Yes. Sad almost always turns into angry. And when it gets bad enough, some people decide that life is too painful. They think life will be like that, forever, even though it never is. And they can’t face it, so they decide to stop living.”
“But why kill all those children? Why kill his mom?”
“Again, no one knows, honey. Adults don’t know nearly as much as they pretend they do. But we do know that sometimes people become so angry that they hurt other people. Their hurt becomes so big that they decide to take it out on others, because they think it’s unfair. And they decide to become evil. They don’t feel like they have a choice.”
“How do you know when you’re evil?”
“It’s very hard to know what evil is sometimes, but if you’re making a decision for someone else, especially one that will stop their life, that’s evil. Because everyone has a right to their own life. And evil won’t even make you happy. It just destroys and destroys until there’s nothing left.”
“And this man was evil because he stopped their lives.”
“Yes. He had a lot of guns and bullets, and he was able to kill a lot of people in a short time. Which is another reason people are so upset.”
“Are the guns evil? Could he have killed the people without them?”
“He could have, but not nearly as many, or as fast.”
“Do guns do anything else besides kill people?”
“Well, no.”
“So they’re evil.”
“No, they can kill bad people.”
“How do you know who’s bad?
“You have to decide.”
“But isn’t that evil? Deciding who gets to live and die?”
“…uh, look, it’s complicated.”
“Why don’t we just get rid of all the guns?”
“Well, people would still be able to get them somewhere. And people can still kill in other ways.”
“But it would help.”
“Yes. A lot.”
“So why do we have them?”
“For one thing, to keep little girls like you safe from evil people.”
“With guns.”
*sigh* “Yeah, okay. Good point. But you know how you used to be scared of monsters under your bed?”
“Well, adults are their own monsters. And you can’t tell who is one or who isn’t.”
“That’s scary.”
“Yes. Adults get scared, and that’s why there are so many guns. But here’s the good news: when you’re an adult, you get to choose whether you’re a monster or not.”
“But the guns don’t know if you’re a monster, either.”
“No. And they don’t care.”
“I don’t like being scared or angry or sad. Can’t we be safe without being scared, or angry, or sad?”
“Honey, I don’t know. But we’re going to have to try.”