The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

December 17, 2012

Why is there no answer to the question ‘why?’

Editor and Publisher
John H. Walker

TARBORO — Stephanie and I have two grandsons, 7-year-old Alex and 5-year-old Dominick, and every word we’ve heard come out of the mouths of those young survivors at Sandy Hook Elementary School has hit us like a sledgehammer.

These are youngsters the ages of our grandchildren who are describing the horror they experienced. The little blonde-haired boy who described in such great detail about being in the hall with the gunman and being pulled into a room by a teacher is Dominick’s age.

Lord, try as I might on this Sunday, I can only wonder how in Your great universe does this fit in?

All of the children who were killed were either 6 or 7 — there were four 7-year-old victims and 16 who were 6 — but that whole school and community … this whole nation … was a victim.

There are some acts of violence that are more easily dealt with, but how can you reconcile the murder of 20 children? It’s difficult enough when we hear about it from some Third World country with a power hungry dictator, but not in a school. Our children and grandchildren are supposed to feel safe there … so safe, in fact, that they never think about safety.

I know Stephanie and I are no different from any other grandparent … not Al and Connie Hull, not Buddy Hooks, not our friends Steve and Teri Martin, who are driving from Thomasville to Corpus Christi, Texas today to see a new grandbaby.

We all love them and cherish every minute we have with them, whether face-to-face or on the telephone, and I know none of us could imagine life without one of those precious little things.

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Friday’s killings should open three great debates in our land — on gun control, on limiting access to school campuses and on mental illness.

I own a gun, but I’m not a hunter. I don’t believe restricting ownership of guns is the answer and I’ll use Sandy Hook as my example. The killer’s first victim apparently was his mother, Nancy Lanza. He killed her with her own gun and, according to reports, learned how to shoot and handle a gun from her.

How would gun tighter gun laws have helped? Nancy Lanza owned them legally and, according to reports, collected guns.

I do believe we should do all within our power to restrict access to school grounds, even if it means placing fences around the campuses.

Newtown had a system where you pressed a buzzer, identified yourself and were buzzed in. Adam Lanza, more recent reports indicate, may have forced his way in by breaking the glass in a side window.

There was nothing at-fault with the system other than the fact the building was accessible to someone with sever emotional problems.

And that brings me to third debate, on mental illness.

At a time when state governments across our nation are cutting funds for the treatment of the mentally ill, we should be doing just the opposite.

Adam Lanza had problems. A person identified as “a drinking buddy” of Nancy Lanza said less than a week before the shootings that she had said she was worried about her son … that he “was getting worse.” She recounted incidents where he was burning himself with a lighter.

I can’t tell you how to recognize if someone could be a ticking time bomb or not, but this woman, who received $20,000 a month in alimony, could have afforded some type of treatment for her son. For whatever reason, she chose to not do that and, instead, today we are searching for answers to all of the “Why?” questions that keep popping up.

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 As we work to sort through all of this, I can promise you one thing and that’s when Stephanie and I get the chance to hug those grandbabies on Saturday, it will be like no hug we’ve ever given them.

(John H. Walker is editor and publisher of The Daily Southerner and can be contacted at or by calling 823-3016.)