A Bit Too Close to Home

Ever since the Sandy Hook Massacre I’ve followed mass shootings in the news with a mixture of three emotions: horror, disgust, and relief. The horror needs no explanation. The disgust I feel is about the Second Amendment and gun fetishists who always seem more concerned about “muh guns and muh freedom” than about the victims, even if the victims are innocent grade school kids. But horror and disgust inevitably give way to relief. I live in New Jersey, a state with a high level of education, and, as a consequence, strong gun control laws, not some hell hole in the South or the Midwest. Yeah. We may have elected Chris Christie governor, twice, but at least we’re smart enough not to let our citizens stockpile military grade weapons.  Mass shootings  don’t happen here. That’s what makes this story so disturbing. This is quite literally down the block from where I live.

A 46-year-old Delaware man was arrested at an elementary school parking lot in Westfield on Thursday after being found in his SUV with a loaded gun and additional ammunition, officials said.

Wilkie was holding a .45-caliber handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets, authorities said. He also had two more loaded magazines of ammunition in his possession while 130 additional rounds were in the vehicle’s trunk.

Westfield police learned the man, identified as Thomas J. Wilkie, was at the Tamaques School after getting a tip from New Castle County cops in Delaware just before 4 p.m., the Union County Prosecutor’s Office said. Officers took Wilkie into custody and searched the school, which was placed under lockdown with after school activities taking place.


Fortunately his brother tipped off the cops. Also, he doesn’t seem to have made any moves to bring his guns into the school, where his ex-girlfriend teaches. For all anybody knows he could simply be a moron who likes driving around with an arsenal in his trunk, not a potential mass murderer. But the one thing most mass shooters have in common is violence towards women. They come in all colors and religions, but they’re almost always domestic abusers. So the fact that he drove all the way up to northern New Jersey from Delaware with a 45 automatic and a trunk full of hollow points is not a good sign.

The father of the Delaware man arrested outside a Westfield school Thursday, who police say had a handgun and more than 100 bullets, said his son may have traveled there to see a former or current girlfriend. He also said another of his sons called police Thursday about the brother.


I sometimes remark that the first time I knew Trump was going to win the election was back in October of 2016, when I cycled across Massachusetts and noticed that ever other house in the Berkshires seemed to have either a Ron Paul or a Trump/Pence sign out front. If Trump was that popular in Pittsfield and Springfield, I imagined, what was going on in Birmingham Alabama. But looking back at 2012, I should have realized that the moment that the history books will record that we made the inevitable slide into fascism was December of 2012, and the right-wing’s use of the Sandy Hook Massacre as propaganda, the conspiracy theories about that horrific event being a set up by Barack Obama to “take muh guns and muh freedom,” the gaslighting in the media about whether or not it meant we needed gun control. Of course we did. Of course we do.

What’s more, after the callous attitude so many conservatives showed towards white grade school kids in Connecticut, is it really any surprise that it would all end up with a white supremacist President locking up Central American families in concentration camps along the border? Sandy Hook will go down as a central event in American history. Fortunately, the alert brother and father of a potential mass shooter prevented us from having a sequel right here in New Jersey.

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