The Horror of Newtown

The tragedy in Newtown is not the kind of tragedy that warrants an immediate response, particularly one meant to reinforce a political or ideological agenda. The immediate response from decent people is utter silence. Numbness. Grief. And more silence. It was an unspeakable event, and it does warrant commentary on a handful of issues. However, for one’s natural and immediate and impulsive response to be anything other than complete horror is indicative of a person whose priorities are not straight. I will leave it there.

I don’t have the energy to offer the big pro-gun ownership argument to those using this to promote the big pro-gun control argument. It is an emotionally-charged subject, but it isn’t one that warrants a lot of participation on my part. There is NO attempt from the gun-grabbing lobby to even attempt to deal with these three basic facts: (1) Switzerland has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, and one out of two people own a gun; (2) Mexico has one of the highest violent crime rates in the world, and gun ownership is completely outlawed; (3) No legislation about future gun purchases or prohibitions can even remotely address the reality that there are millions of guns already in societal circulation.

Look, I am not a big gun guy; I live in Newport Beach, CA (for now), and I just don’t get juiced up thinking about going to the range (other than with my 7-iron). However, it is a distraction and a waste of time to pretend that any part of this can or will be addressed by stricter gun laws. The facts speak for themselves. The strictest gun laws in the country are in the two highest crime centers of the country – Washington D.C. and Chicago. Folks can and will use the raw emotions of an event like this to promote an agenda, but there will not be a time in this country’s future where law-abiding citizens give up their firearms – it will not happen. So we move on …

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I think the subject of institutional security measures is a legitimate discussion. I don’t like it, but I don’t have to. The reality of our situation warrants a deeper effort to protect those in schools, malls, and buildings. I have meetings in New York City skyscrapers dozens of times each and every year. There are armed security guards in every building, and I cannot get up the elevators without going through a metal detector. They are not violating my civil rights, because they are not forcing me to have a meeting in 345 Park Avenue. I could meet at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse if I desired. But if I want to go into virtually any building in midtown Manhattan over seven stories high, there are huge security measures involved

I am not suggesting these measures fit the need at our schools, but I am suggesting that a substantial investment (paid for by the cuts we should make in the other waste that exists throughout these programs) be made in such measures as armed non-uniformed security, etc. I am no expert here, and it would have been a tragedy if even one innocent person was killed in Newtown, but this lunatic should have been ended before the death toll reached two. We can discuss how it got to this point, and I will, but we have to deal with what it is – routine trips to the movie theater and elementary school are apparently no longer safe. This has to be addressed.

The mental health issue is another one generating a lot of heat, and I would only offer one comment for the Calvinians amongst us: If you do not understand the doctrine of Original Sin, you can not address the issue of mental health. I believe there are some people with severe psychotic schizophrenia, and I believe that is a mental illness. I also believe there are people who are isolated, alienated, angry, and disturbed, and that these people have no right to murder 27 people. We may or may not have a mental health epidemic in this country, but there can be no doubt that we have an epidemic of moral failure, ethical relativism, and ambiguity over the sanctity of human life. These areas warrant a “national conversation,” and these issues create mass shootings, period.

I think this whole issue about the glorification of violence in the media and video games is also pertinent, but I am a little confused how that discussion can take place without a discussion on parenting (or the lack thereof) in our society. I may be able to develop an opinion on violence in video games (I don’t have one now), but I certainly have an opinion about the oversight parents provide to the video games their children play (and the content of what they allow or don’t allow in their homes). “The video game made me do it” argument has a big burden to overcome; “my parents never paid attention to me” does not.

As I am learning more and more, we have political problems in our society because we first have cultural ones. We have educational problems because we first have cultural ones. “Ideas have consequences” is as true today as it was in the enlightenment. The fundamental “idea” driving society for the better part of 100 years now has been the humanism that was conceived by Darwinism. Humanism is a deadly sin, and it is a deadly sin because it is a deadly idea. I think that gun control, mental health, video games, and public school safety are all conversations for the news networks this week. But I believe for those of us who love faith, God, family, and virtue, the challenge of our generation is to see humanism killed in the public square. When that takes place, you have my word that we will not see our children killed there.

May God comfort the city of Newtown, CT, where one of my very best friends, Brian Harrington, resides with his beautiful wife and four children. I cannot explain the pit in my stomach when the word “Newtown” appeared next to the word “massacre” in my news text feed. I thank God the Harrington family is okay, and I pray for those families who are not. Words do no justice to what has happened. May God comfort these families and this community at this time. May the next lunatic shooter who approaches a group of children in our society meet a bullet before he fires one himself. I know that hell got more crowded by one on Friday, but I also believe heaven got more crowded by twenty.

David L. Bahnsen, CFP®, works as a Senior Vice President in the private client group of one of the premier Wall Street firms in the country where he provides financial planning and investment management services to individuals and families. To receive his Market Updates via email, go to

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