Thoughts on the Tragedy in Connecticut

I got the following question by email yesterday:

I know people live and then people die. I know. But this guy walked in and murdered 20 little kids. It was very real and it hurts, I don’t want to grieve and mourn like my Catholic family, I don’t want to hate this man and I don’t want to say these sweet angels are going to heaven because I don’t believe that. I believe that of all the things in the world, Buddhism has made the most sense. Your books have made the most sense. Will you please Brad Warner this one up and explain to me how to deal with this and how to make sense of it, if it’s even possible. How do I help others that feel the same way? My kids are in the same age group as those 20 kids, it hit home for me and many others. I don’t know if I’ll hear back from you, but I have to admit typing this out has made me feel a little less like I’m drowning in all my worries. Thank you for writing those books.

And thank you for writing me this email.

I don’t have a TV. Actually, my roommates and I have a TV set. But it’s not hooked up to an antenna or cable. We just use it to watch DVDs. So my experience of this is probably somewhat unlike that of many Americans. It seems like whenever I visit people’s homes — I sleep on a lot of couches on my speaking tours! — they often have a TV that’s on for several hours every day. I’m guessing that news of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut is on heavy rotation right now.

The media loves this kind of stuff. It’s terrific for ratings. A shooting at an elementary school around Christmas-time has got to be like a godsend for the news media. They’re going to milk it for all that it’s worth.

When that happens, we are shown a steady stream of images designed specifically to excite us and enhance whatever feelings of fear, grief, outrage, horror and so on that come up when things like this happen. It presents to us a consensus of what we supposedly ought to be feeling. Those of us who don’t feel the way the media is saying we ought to can often start to believe there’s something wrong with us. But that’s not true. It’s OK to feel however you feel about this.

As far as making sense of this tragedy, I think that might be impossible. Human beings often do things that are simply irrational and without any real sense. We’re driven by powerful forces that we cannot ever fully comprehend. In Buddhism we identify greed, hate and delusion as the three categories of things that drive us to do wrong. Once a month on the full moon people living at Zen monasteries gather together and chant, “All my ancient twisted karma, from beginningless greed, hate and delusion, born through body, speech and mind, I now fully avow.”

We all have greed, hate and delusion. The kid who shot those children wasn’t so different from us. But he failed to understand that the best way to deal with this is to refrain from doing wrong. In Buddhism we value refraining from doing wrong much more highly than doing right.

As for how to deal with it, I think we need to be practical. The Huffington Post has run some very good pieces about this. Here is a piece offering practical advice about how to help the victims of this terrible incident:

And here is one by a Reverend from the United Church of Christ offering hints about what not to say to people who have been victims of acts like this:

I don’t know if those children or their brave teachers are angels in Heaven now. But I do have a very strong conviction that they have not departed from this universe. I don’t think there’s really anywhere else they, or we, could go. The same applies to their killer. All of them live within us in a very real sense. Not just metaphorically, but actually.

Like everyone else, I mourn the loss of the victims and feel anger toward their killer. And I’m angry at the careless lobbyists and organizations who continue to allow this stuff to happen. But my feelings of grief and anger contribute very little of any real value. They’re just feelings. They will pass.

I know you must fear for the safety of your own children now. My sister felt the same kind of fear when she took her 16 year old daughter, my niece, the great and wonderful Skylar, to school today. But just in terms of simple statistics, it’s very unlikely something like this will happen to your children or to Skylar. Luckily, we live in a pretty civilized country — even though it’s far too easy for insane people to get assault rifles and we really need to change that. You can’t protect your children from everything that might potentially harm them. That’s just an unfortunate fact.

My Zen teachers always said that the best thing to do with difficult feelings is to sit with them. I used to think they were crazy. But then I tried it and found out they were right.


Thank you for all your donations. It’s really helped out with some recent unforeseen expenses.

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52 Responses

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  1. akikaze
    akikaze December 17, 2012 at 8:33 am |

    Thank you.

  2. Jules
    Jules December 17, 2012 at 9:32 am |

    Brad wrote: “In Buddhism we value refraining from doing wrong much more highly than doing right.”

    That certainly doesn’t match up with my values, the way you wrote it. I’m not sure if you meant something different than how I read it, though. Someone who values refraining from doing wrong much more highly than doing right would likely end up not doing much at all (which admittedly seems an apt description of some people I know).

    Doing nothing is better than doing wrong. But most everyone does right, in little ways, all day long. Even the little right things we do should be valued higher than doing nothing, if you ask me.

  3. dorjegocha
    dorjegocha December 17, 2012 at 9:54 am |

    In Buddhist ethical teachings, “right” is most commonly defined as “not wrong.” Thus, the so-called “ten right actions” are simply to specifically refrain from committing the “ten wrong actions” – i.e., not killing, not stealing, etc. I think that it’s much easier to define “not wrong” than “right.” Acting out of some sense of righteousness is often a trap. Wrongdoers often think that what they are doing is “right.” In such cases, better to focus on “not wrong.”

  4. mika
    mika December 17, 2012 at 9:56 am |

    What also perpetrates such events as this is the massive media coverage they – and especially the person responsible – always receive:

  5. CLMorgan
    CLMorgan December 17, 2012 at 10:03 am |

    Hi Brad

    One of your best posts & replies to a question.

  6. SoF
    SoF December 17, 2012 at 10:19 am |

    I am gonna go “Buddhist Mystic” here and say:

    “We ARE the world in which we live.”

    Apparently the Connecticut school shooting suspect has Asperger’s syndrome. And he was ‘unattended.’

    What we are talking about is real suffering leading up to the event which compounded the communities suffering by a factor of 50 or 1,000 – or or 200,000 through the voyeurism of Television.

    Yes, in this land of shadow and light Mara has his follies where there is no peace in the mind.

    What can YOU do now? Nothing.

    In Buddhism, we control the selfless self and not others. But compassion would have us provide for the good of the community – which does not stop at the sangha walls. We provide for the welfare of others – especially the infirm.

    The man who seeded his beginning and the woman who gave him birth obviously were remiss in the care they provided to this fledgling mass-murderer.

    We have to move forward from here – to the next moment. We have to maintain our practice and dream of peace in this land of shadow and light. We MUST maintain our own peace, the peace in our communities, and extend peace into the world of our enemies.

    The wars we wage – internally and externally – have far too few benefits and far too many liabilities.

  7. Axel
    Axel December 17, 2012 at 10:19 am |

    This post came across my social network stream today, and I feel compelled to respond. Buddhists often get written off as shutting out the world, and this post very much feels that way to me. I have kids, and I don’t need any media to feed my grief. The grief is not media made, it’s collective. The simple fact of knowing that 20 little children were shot as much as 11 times each at close range is enough to make me hurt inside. This man is part of us, he is us, we did this to ourselves collectively. I have to feel the pain of those parents that bought Xmas gifts for their child, their child that now is gone. It’s horrible, and I feel every last bit of that horror. I am no Zen master, I’ve sat a few sesshins, that about it, but what those sits taught me is that we all have the strength to bear that pain by just allowing it to be as it is, and feeling it fully. It’s what makes as human. Forget the killer and trying to make any sense of it, it doesn’t make any sense. But focus on those kids and those parents. Maybe even pull up a web page that shows their faces and tells their stories. Take it all in, sit with it, imagine what it’s like to loose your child. Imagine you only had one child and he/she is gone. The feelings aren’t meaningless, they connect us, link us together. We can carry a little pain for the surviving families, even any bit of consciousness towards that will change the world, and will guide us in knowing what to do next. It might guide us towards our own unfinished business of grief, or it might compel us to vote for some decent change that might prevent another tragedy. But please, please don’t shut it out.

    1. Axel
      Axel December 17, 2012 at 5:19 pm |

      Addendum: I re-read your blog this afternoon and I realize I was saying the same thing you were saying. I guess I should take back my statement suggesting your post was shutting out the world. I suppose I just don’t agree with the statement that feelings contribute very little value. That’s simply not true.

  8. rich_g
    rich_g December 17, 2012 at 10:27 am |

    “When that happens, we are shown a steady stream of images designed specifically to excite us and enhance whatever feelings of fear, grief, outrage, horror and so on that come up when things like this happen. It presents to us a consensus of what we supposedly ought to be feeling. Those of us who don’t feel the way the media is saying we ought to can often start to believe there’s something wrong with us. But that’s not true. It’s OK to feel however you feel about this.”

    I am glad to read that. I’ve been getting a lot of grief from friends the last couple of days because I’m not getting all up in arms and being outraged / mourning / sending prayers / etc with them. I don’t see a need. Sure, it sucks that a bunch of kids got shot. It’s also bad that we’ll never know why the killer did it. To me, it’s just another news story. I didn’t know any of the people, I don’t have kids, and it happened half a country away from me. I have no ties to the situation. I read the article and moved on. Does it make me a bad guy? I don’t think so. Everyone else I know thinks I’m an uncaring asshole.

    A far as the gun control thing goes, I don’t think it will make a difference. The same day this happened, a guy in China went into a school and stabbed 22 kids. It got very little press; I found out about it by accident. My point? Gun control is not the answer; focus on detection and treatment of mental health issues should be our priority – assuming, of course that mental health issues were part of what drove these two men to do what they did. Essentially, I guess I’m trying to say that someone is determined to hurt/kill people, they’re going to do it. If they have the will and the intent, their weapon of choice is irrelevant.

    (For the record, I’m not a pro-gun person. I’m one of those guys that believes that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. A gun is a tool that can have constructive as well as destructive uses; the intent of the user is what makes the difference.)

    1. Hungry Ghost
      Hungry Ghost December 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm |

      I heard a guy on NPR talking about the problem with the mental health/early detection scenario. He was saying that the amount of people that fit the profile is exponentially larger than the handful of people who commit these kinds of acts. In effect, the mental health profession doesn’t have the tools to predict these kinds of things.

      On the guns don’t kill people, people kill people thing, I think people become gunpeople when they own guns, not just people with guns. This is too abstract to factor into legislation but it benefits us to acknowledge that our tools and technologies are part of us. A samurai was not just a person with a sword, the sword was part of their makeup and how they interacted with the world, an idiot with a laptop is not just an idiot with a laptop, look at how the commenting on blogs phenomenon gets people to communicate differently and assume a different persona than they would face to face. Others have communicated this point with more clarity but I can’t remember where or I’d try to post links.

    2. Alan_A
      Alan_A December 18, 2012 at 11:35 am |

      rich_g wrote: “I have no ties to the situation.”

      Um, not getting the whole interdependence thing, are we?

      Played with Indra’s Net recently?

  9. Fred
    Fred December 17, 2012 at 10:46 am |

    I’m one of those guys that believes that nuclear bombs don’t kill people, people kill people. A nuclear bomb is a tool that can have constructive as well as destructive uses.

    I’m one of those guys that believes that napalm doesn’t kill people, people kill people. Napalm is a tool that can have constructive as well as destructive uses

    I’m one of those guys that believes that tanks don’t kill people, people kill people. A tank is a tool that can have constructive as well as destructive uses

    I’m one of those guys that believes that bayonets don’t kill people, people kill people. A bayonet is a tool that can have constructive as well as destructive uses

  10. sri_barence
    sri_barence December 17, 2012 at 11:18 am |

    I am the father of a 7-year-old girl. My wife and I have decided not to watch “news” about this tragedy, and not to tell our daughter about it or to try to explain it if she finds out from another source. I’m not sure how I would explain it in any case.

    When animals kill other animals, we can say that this is just how nature works. It may seem cruel to us, but actually it is the right way for animals to behave. I feel comfortable explaining this to my daughter. She may not like it, but she can accept that nature sometimes appears cruel.

    When humans kill one another, it is much harder for us to see this as “natural.” Maybe it isn’t natural at all. Maybe the reason we feel disgust, outrage, grief, and horror about such killing is that in our guts we know it is wrong.

    That’s how I feel: angry, disgusted, and horrified. And I feel a bit of despair when I think this kind of thing will probably happen again, somewhere, some time. As human beings, what can we do?

  11. rich_g
    rich_g December 17, 2012 at 11:33 am |

    The nuclear weapons race in the 1960’s caused the US to extensively research and develop the science of seismology so that they could detect nuclear weapons testing throughout the world (in accordance with nuclear weapons bans of the time). It was also determined that seismology was a wonderful thing for detecting earthquakes, tsunami development, and tectonic plate movement, thus contributing to our understanding of geology and the Earth’s construction. It has also had its uses in weather and disaster prediction.

    Napalm is used today as a means of performing “safety burns” – fires that are started to burn select pieces of land with the greater intent of controlling the pace / movement / spread of forest fires, thus curtailing the forest fires’ destructive potential.

    Tanks are commonly used to pull other vehicles out of mud or sand, because of their weight and traction. Tanks are also commonly used for clearing / neutralizing minefields through the use of specialized equipment that attaches to the front of them.

    Bayonets can be used as any other knife – mundane cutting chores, brush clearing, preparing food, etc. Soldiers are also taught that the bayonet can be used as an emergency digging tool.

    Please think before you troll.

  12. hrtbeat7
    hrtbeat7 December 17, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  13. Fred
    Fred December 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm |

    There is no trolling Rich. All those items were constructed to murder people.

  14. Serenity
    Serenity December 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm |

    Thanks Brad for recognizing that we all react in our own way to such events and that those victims are still with us. I was once a victim’s advocate and the job required that I remain as removed yet sympathetic as possible so as not to make it worse. I learned from that experience that every individual does indeed have there own unique way of grieving. Some people even laugh.

    I can’t saturate myself with pictures of the children or details of the horror. It won’t change anything. The news does enough soliciting sorrow from people without me inviting more on myself. Will my grieving initiate changes in the law? Probably not. It hasn’t managed to do that in the past. I like to think that my rational arguments and personal efforts to encourage solutions will work better than my grief

    In my sorrow I am comforted by my belief that all of them are still with us and always will be. I even grieve for the shooter. What sort of mental hell was he living with that he felt compelled to do this? I grew up in Amish country long before I learned about buddhism, so when the Amish school was attacked in 2006 and the Amish very quickly forgave the shooter, I understood. I was impressed. It was personal for them and not so much for me. Even though every loss of human life is personal to us all.

    It doesn’t sit well with some people that I don’t weep and wail more, but it isn’t my nature. I just try to keep moving forward hoping that one day we will find a way to end this.

  15. Fred
    Fred December 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm |

    J. Krishnamurti

    “Violence is not merely killing another. It is violence when we use a sharp word, when we make a gesture to brush away a person, when we obey because there is fear. So violence isn’t merely organized butchery in the name of God, in the name of society or country. Violence is much more subtle, much deeper, and we are inquiring into the very depths of violence.”

    It is a form of violence even handling a gun.

  16. Axel
    Axel December 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm |

    I agree, guns don’t kill people, people kill people, so lets figure out how to keep guns out of people who want to kill. And why is it that people keep using the Chinese as a comparison. The stabbed kids are alive, not dead and shot up with as many as 11 bullets each. Nut cases are always going to be around, I prefer them without a gun, even without a knife if possible, but at least with the knife bearing one, I have half a chance to hit him over the head with a bat before he harms my kids.

    Personally, I prefer preparing my food with a kitchen knife as opposed to a bayonet. And tow trucks are a much preferred way to dig out of mud. Tanks have a way of ruining asphalt.

    Killing is everywhere, even in Zen monasteries. This is a true story told to Janwillem van de Wetering:

    “In Tokyo there are some Zen monasteries as well. In one of these monasteries … there was a Zen monk who happened to be very conceited. He refused to listen to whatever the master was trying to tell him and used the early morning interviews with the master to air all his pet theories. The masters have a special stick for this type of pupil. Our master has one, too, you will have seen it, a short thick stick. One morning the master hit the monk so hard that the monk didn’t get up any more. He couldn’t, because he was dead….”

    I am glad this Zen master didn’t have a gun. Sticks don’t kill people, people kill people.

  17. acmcarey
    acmcarey December 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm |

    Thank you Brad for your thoughts about this tragedy. Even though I’m just a beginner to the practice of meditation (off and on for 5 years). I still definitely agree with you and your masters when you mentioned that they told you the best way to deal with heavy negative emotions is to just sit with them. It has worked for me in the past. I’m not saying I just went skipping down the road after sitting for 30 minuets. But it did give me a bit more space to work with which helped me handle whatever was going on a little better. I think this can apply to this horrific tragedy in Newtown because it’s the space that helps you not the searching for answers which only lead to more questions. Thanks again Brad!

  18. A-Bob
    A-Bob December 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm |

    “The media loves this kind of stuff. It’s terrific for ratings.”

    Funny, I heard Rush Limbaugh say nearly the exact same thing earlier today before I turned him off. And, because I don’t like him much I thought that he was stupid to say that. That the news media can’t feel love or hate. That the media is just an idea. There are real people who make up the news media and I’m just not ready to believe that any of them could love this type of event. Sorry, I’m cynical but not that cynical.

    That being said, Turn off your TVs, they’re more dangerous than Bushmasters..

    1. chasrmartin
      chasrmartin December 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm |

      Bob, I’m (among other things) a professional journalist. I know lots of these people. You have an excellent point that “the media” doesn’t exist — it’s a bunch of individuals subject to karma/vipaka. But I know a lot of those people, and I certainly think there are people in the media who love this kind of story; there are also people in the media, including some dear friends at Fox News, who hate this kind of story but believe they’re obligated to report them.

  19. chasrmartin
    chasrmartin December 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm |


    Here’s a question for you, and forgive me that it’s a little bit of a scholastic question, but then I’m a little bit of a scholastic Buddhist: think about karma and vipaka, action and the consequences of action. Now look at a butcher knife. It’s used to prune a tree: the tree grows straighter. It’s used in an emergency to amputate a gangrenous limb: the amputee survives. It’s used to cut someone’s throat in a robbery: that person dies.

    Who committed the action that leads to the consequence? The gardener? The surgeon? The robber? Or the butcher knife?

  20. hrtbeat7
    hrtbeat7 December 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm |

    The human possibility is indeed a challenge — more so than most potential incarnational circumstances — and so provides an excellent classroom for our continuing edification. It attracts us because it is so different than what we truly are, and so beckons as a fascinating opportunity to see what we are really made of.

    Humans are selfish, violent animals. They use violence to protect themselves from real and imagined potential threats to their ability to get what they want, to amass wealth in its many forms, and to manipulate and exercise dominance over others. This manipulation might take the form of sexual abuse, for example, as per the topic of recent posts here and on other Buddhist-flavored blogs, or it may involve shooting up a mall or kindergarten. Aside from natural disasters, humans are responsible for the horror we see in daily life. Humans wage war, engage in gang violence, rob homes and businesses, sell and use mind-altering drugs, abuse children, rape, murder (and even accuse each other of certain lapses in proper clerical etiquette). Nevertheless, humans are the least qualified to pass judgment on each other. After all, can a zebra change its stripes?

    Nevertheless, all of the evil acts in the world would stop today if we would collectively use the one tool that is available to each and every one of us–our spiritual ability to control our own human host’s actions. We see this power in action every time someone exercises “self control.” Each of us can choose moment-to-moment whether to allow our host body to act out in typical selfish human fashion, or, to do what is best for all of us collectively.

    More here:

  21. chasrmartin
    chasrmartin December 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm |

    Oh, and Brad, sometimes I make the mistake of only commenting on those things which I think are ill-considered, so just let me say I think your original post here is excellent.

    1. chasrmartin
      chasrmartin December 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  22. AdamStanecki
    AdamStanecki December 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm |

    Thank you Brad.
    Sincerely thank you.

  23. Everythingzen3
    Everythingzen3 December 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm |

    I just your post. To say you answered my question is a bit of an understatement. There just isn’t a way to adequately describe how grateful I am to have had your thoughts and guidance at a time when I felt so lost. Thank you. I’m just going to leave it at that. 

    Janette Reed

  24. SoF
    SoF December 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm |

    hrtbeat7 December 17, 2012 at 11:52 am
    “I am Adam Lanza’s mother. . .”

    This is an EXCELLENT reference and I have eMailed it to a number of “righties ruled by emotionalism” on my redneck list.

    Many thanks!

    1. hrtbeat7
      hrtbeat7 December 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm |

      Glad you found the article worthwhile reading.

      Of course, when such “challenged” folk do receive mental health treatment, it’s usually in the form of psychiatric drugs. Let’s see how that has worked out:

      On the other other hand, the problem is also growing on the care giving end:

      In my own experience, I was a Conscientious Objector during the Viet Nam War, and so performed 2 years of Alternate Service as a Child Care Counselor at a residential school and treatment center in rural Northern California for emotionally scarred pre-adolescents.

      I was assigned to a group of 10 very unhappy, abused, and bewildered boys that I came to love, and I carefully watched over them, and also made sure that they ate properly. I had the kitchen substitute fresh fruits and vegetables for the standard white sugar and flour products, and eliminate institutional processed foods as much as possible. Rather than letting them sit around and watch violent cartoons on the weekends, I would load them into the van and take them to the parks and beaches of Northern California, and let these inner-city kids get the feeling for the freedom to be found in nature. At bedtime, I would give them tender backrubs, and tell them little stories to ease them into the night.

      It quickly became apparent to me that the common source of these kids’ disturbance was a profound wound at the emotional heart of their being — they had found out early, and invariably violently, that they were not loved, and so I was moved in my way to address this with them, and by grace I was opened to a previously unplumbed depth of my own heart to compensate or balance the hurt in theirs. I literally fell in love with them, to the point that they recognized my love for them as real, and their behavior began to modify as they came to trust this love.

      Of course, I was totally delinquent when measured against the conventional medical establishment’s rules and standards. In the evenings, we would all do a bit of guided meditation, and they fell asleep without being dosed with their prescribed sleeping pills, and in fact I gradually stopped giving them their anti-psychotic meds, because they had ceased their acting out and were developing relational skills which allowed them to deal with their anger and frustration in a more natural manner.

      Within several months, my group began to stand out from the others at the treatment center, since there were hardly any episodes of violence or acting out that characterized the other units’ daily behavior. In fact, we all had more and more pure fun together, and were eventually touted by the administration as an example of successful “rehab” work to visiting authorities. After about a year, the staff psychologists decided to study my group in depth to determine why they appeared to be making such rapid progress, compared to the other units, and of course that’s when they found out I had weaned the boys from the heavy chemical straight-jackets that had previously been used to artificially manage and control their behavior. I had replaced drugs with hugs, more hugs, a natural life style, listening, yes, and even meditation – I had begun studying Zen with Suzuki Roshi at the time, and applying his teaching to child care, and they all loved their morning and evening “mendatation”.

      Naturally, the bureaucratic shrinks were flabbergasted when they discovered I had stopped drugging the kids, and promptly fired me. The dear children all gathered a petition on their own to keep me there, but I had violated the prime directive — do not mess with the pharmaceutical protocols, regardless if they’re poisoning the children!

  25. AnneMH
    AnneMH December 17, 2012 at 5:22 pm |

    Thank you Brad, a very nice sensitive response. I also don’t have TV reception and therefore am sometimes spared the media. However 2 of the last big ones have been in my face. I had a family member working at the theatre in Aurora that night so there is no getting away from that. And I appreciate how you responded to that tragedy as well.

    This one was all over work because I work in a school with children. One of those things that affects so many of us in so many ways. Even if it didn’t affect me it would affect the kids and families around me.

    However I can say without a doubt that the practice of sitting with difficult emotions that you are feeling, rather than what you think you should feel, is the best and often the only thing you can do. I have worked with this through a couple years of life being rough. I have been sometimes very surprised at how I felt, but no matter how horrible it was the feelings and thoughts always pass. No matter how wonderful the feelings and thoughts always pass.

    And in turn that does make a difference in the world around us. i have a very sick friend and i like to think it matters that I sit and talk with her without getting so agitated and worried that i need to keep asking about her treatments or what will happen with her job. I just am with her. A lot of the inspiration and encouragement to do that came from Brad’s story about traveling with his mother and just spending time. How it seemed to relax the situation to be there without putting his own unmanaged emotions into it all.

  26. MJGibbs
    MJGibbs December 17, 2012 at 8:23 pm |

    Nice post, Brad.

  27. Will
    Will December 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm |

    Unless used solely for target shooting the purpose of a handgun is to kill someone. If I want to eat salad I buy a salad fork or chopsticks not a barbecue fork. Handgun ownership is physical expressed intent to kill someone. Even if it’s some shadowy idea of a person trying to rob/kill/disrespect you. You’ve already decided the best way to deal with the situation is to kill them(or threaten to but if it’s not a convincing threat i.e. you can’t convince them that you intend to kill them then it’s not much of a threat). I don’t think killing people is the best solution. It may be convenient to think your problems end when the person you killed does but they don’t. People justifiably kill each other in war all the time and come back with all kinds of emotional distress. This issue aside people in poverty commit more violent crime. If we invested part of the money we spend on killing people or threatening them we on making peoples lives a little better I think we could make all our lives a little better.

  28. A-Bob
    A-Bob December 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm |

    chasrmartin: You’re a journalist and if you tell me that some journalists love to report on a mass murder story I have no reason not to believe you. Of course I have no reason to believe it either. I suppose that some news people can separate themselves from the horror of the story and just see it as an exciting event. But this one was so horrific it’s hard to believe. Brad maintains that news people are reporting on the story not to inform us but mainly to entertain us. I think there is some of that because of money involved. It is easy to believe that news is always treated as a commodity. It’s also easy to think that it’s all politicized. But I’m not a big conspiracy person. I think the number one motivation for news people is to get the events out to the public as accurately as possible. You’d never guess that was true with as many mistakes as they make but I think it is.

  29. A-Bob
    A-Bob December 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm |

    Will: Brad has said he is glad there are military and police to protect us against people who would do us harm. I agree with that. There are some people don’t want to have to rely on cops and soldiers for emergency protection. They want want to be able to protect their families and themselves. I understand that. I don’t feel threatened enough in my daily life to want a gun but I understand why some people might. And as politically incorrect as it is today I am glad that I can buy a gun if I need one. I don’t think being pragmatic is at odds with being a Buddhist.

  30. boubi
    boubi December 18, 2012 at 4:31 pm |

    By stopping selling weapons the way you sell forks you lower by at least 95% the innocent’s massacres.

    All these lunatics just had to buy in shops or internet weapons and ammunitions.

    So stop telling you whatever you’re telling yourselves, about defending your families.

    How many gangsters were stopped by armed civilians? How many real mean assassins? You just end killing each others.

    BTW why don’t you let children play with razor blades and lighters?

  31. chasrmartin
    chasrmartin December 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm |

    A-Bob, imagine if you’d read past the semicolon in my first comment.

    Boubi, it’s always helpful to remember that 89 percent of statistics are made up. That’s why made up statistics are unconvincing.

  32. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 18, 2012 at 5:43 pm |

    I am astounded at people’s remarks and the responses. I’m grateful that Brad has been forced by the cosmos to create this blog, so that the comments column could exist and have a life of its own. I plan to donate, soon, because Brad deserves it for all the horse pucky he’s been force to shovel, even if some of it is from his own cow. Kudos, Mr. Warner.

    Especially Axel and the article hrtbeat7 recommended, which I wouldn’t have read if Chas hadn’t mentioned it again. Stunning.

    Bushmaster AR-15’s with 30-bullet magazines don’t kill people like handguns, and Adam took full advantage.

  33. SoF
    SoF December 18, 2012 at 8:14 pm |

    chasrmartin December 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    “Boubi, it’s always helpful to remember that 89 percent of statistics are made up.”

    Figures lie. (and)
    Liars figure.

    Mike Orkin, a [retired] professor of statistics at California State University, Hayward, and author of the book What Are the Odds?, told The Associated Press that in this case the odds against winning both lotteries in one day, assuming only two tickets were purchased, are about one in 23 trillion.

    Orkin arrived at the number by multiplying the roughly 41-million-to-one odds of winning the SuperLotto game and the 575,000-to-one odds of winning the Fantasy 5 game to arrive at odds of 23,575,000,000,000-to-one.”

  34. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 18, 2012 at 9:06 pm |

    That didn’t come out right. I appreciate your effort here, Brad, and I’d like to thank you for taking the time and trouble. I wasn’t thrilled by your remarks this time around and I was thrilled by some of the commentators, but I think your casual style on this blog is like your dokusan in that respect: being here for those of us that are working things out for ourselves.

    And I really appreciate the commentators this time around for making me feel what a parent in Newtown might be feeling about now, or what the parent of a kid with aspergers or autism and “explosive syndrome” (or whatever that was) gets to feel all the time.

    And I appreciate Diane Feinstein.

  35. Will
    Will December 18, 2012 at 10:01 pm |

    Even if ya wanna be your own policeman and protect yourself with a gun you still have it to kill someone. Police have something called a use of force continuum. They put killing people as a last resort at the top of the pyramid. Getting a tazer or pepper spray and or a dog isn’t a bad option. I just think that people seem too ready to kill other people.

  36. SoF
    SoF December 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm |

    Never mind what others do; do better than yourself, beat your own record from day to day, and you are a success. – William Boetcker


    Live purely.

    Be quiet.

    Do your work with mastery.

    Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds to shine.

    – attributed to Shakyamuni Siddhartha (but not confirmed)

  37. dane214
    dane214 December 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm |

    I am Brad’s father, I have been for 47 yrs. I don’t remember being prouder of him. Not so much this particular statement but moreso of the thoughtfull responses he evoked here. You all are special.

  38. Thor29
    Thor29 December 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm |

    Will, you are wrong about the police. There is a video linked to by the San Francisco Chronicle that clearly shows a cop in Oakland firing 11 rounds into a young man whose only crime was to reach back into the vehicle when the cop was screaming at him to keep his hands in the air. The cop did not wait to get even a glimpse of a weapon before killing the guy. There are also countless stories of people with mental disabilities wielding knives and being mowed down by the cops. The police mentality is to use overwhelming force. They do not try very hard to prevent killing other people.

    If you could prevent the killing of someone you loved by pointing a gun at someone wouldn’t you do it? And if that person kept attacking, wouldn’t you kill them rather than let them kill the person you cared about? I know I would. If someone were attacking your loved one and you called the cops, they would be firing guns in your behalf so you might as well have pulled the trigger yourself.

    I guess I just don’t understand the inconsistency of being okay with the police and military wielding weapons when they are not really our protectors and instead are used by the people in power to maintain that power regardless of the violence they inflict on the rest of us. (Do Americans think the thousands of people killed by the USA in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in the last decade don’t count?) Yes, sometimes cops do protect you. But sometimes they kill you and more often they don’t show up until the violence is over.

    This guy says it better than I can:

    1. Hungry Ghost
      Hungry Ghost December 21, 2012 at 7:26 am |

      I think this touches on the seeing through delusion aspect of zen/buddhism. The whole seeing a rope as a snake thing. I think cops shoot young black men because they’re under the illusion that young black man equals armed criminal, cops use excessive force on protestors because they think protestor equals tearing down society. I’ve personally witnessed white kids let off for heroine possession more than once, and black kids go to prison for possessing one joint. I’ve seen cops unabashedly take the side of outlaw bikers they were on a first name basis with, ignoring the law. I’m not anti-cop, my experience just happens to be more often on the receiving end and that colors my perspective. Maybe the cops see their own familes in the faces of the white kids, maybe they’re afraid the white kid’s families can afford lawyers and assume black kid’s can’t. I’m commenting very narrowly on race, and my experiences with white cops, but I think you can find delusion at the root of every injustice.

  39. SoF
    SoF December 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm |

    Thor29 December 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    “Will, you are wrong about the police. There is a video linked to by the San Francisco Chronicle [PLEASE PROVIDE A LINK] that clearly shows a cop in Oakland firing 11 rounds into a young man whose only crime was to reach back into the vehicle when the cop was screaming at him to keep his hands in the air…”

    It’s hard for some to imagine, but police are people too. They can panic. They can make fatal errors.

    But, at the end of their shift, most would just like to go home and get a good nights sleep.

    In Canada, more complete conversations seem possible.

    I’m not siding with the police. In my reckless youth, I was on the side of the war protesters (some of whom yelled “Kill the Pigs.”) Well, police are not always, or even often, pigs. I suggest that the ‘mentality of extremism’ needs serious therapeutic intervention.

    But unfortunately, on the far right, therapeutic intervention may not always be enough.

  40. SoF
    SoF December 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm |

    Police and PTSD.

  41. A-Bob
    A-Bob December 20, 2012 at 9:02 pm |

    Right. You have similar concerns to me Thor29. When it comes right down to it I don’t trust cops all that much. I know they have a difficult job. I give them credit. But they’re gaining way too much power in america. Too much power will corrupt anyone. It even happens to Buddhists. When cops have enough power to start making decisions for the rest of us we are in big trouble.

  42. Will
    Will December 21, 2012 at 1:31 am |

    There are policemen who taze 5 year old girls and kill people for holding a pack of cigarettes. And that whole thing with occupy and the nets and tear gassing people who were no threat seemingly out of caprice. Still, people independently dispensing their own brand of justice is something I’d like to avoid.

    And no I wouldn’t save a loved one by killing someone. It’s a silly hypothetical situation. It’s an imaginary situation you have set up in your head where killing someone is the only answer. You would have many options to change the course of events and there would be many options to resolve the situation differently.
    Believing that situation just makes you more likely to think that killing someone is the best or only solution. I think killing people is wrong and It should be considered an illegal act for states or individuals.

  43. Fred
    Fred December 21, 2012 at 4:52 am |

    “With a surge in support for a new ban on semi-automatic weapons after the Sandy Hook massacre, and some sporting goods stores pulling assault-style rifles off the shelves, Walmart reports a huge surge in sales of these weapons.”

    Kids are clearing out their bank accounts.

  44. anon1253
    anon1253 December 22, 2012 at 7:44 am |

    Hmm, how come children in other countries
    harmed by
    psychotic American taxpayers
    don’t make the evening news?

Comments are closed.