Letter: Inspiration

Letter to the Editor

What inspired James Crumbley to purchase a semiautomatic 9-millimeter Sig Sauer handgun and multiple rounds of ammunition for his 15-year old son, Ethan, for Christmas? What inspired Jennifer Crumbley to take Ethan out to a firing range to practice using this handgun the day after the purchase? After a teacher reported seeing Ethan searching online for ammunition, why did Jennifer text Ethan, “LOL I’m not mad at you; you have to learn not to get caught.”? Why did the Crumbley parents not immediately interrogate Ethan about the Sig Sauer handgun after seeing the note that alarmed his teachers, where Ethan had drawn images of a gun, a person who had been shot, a laughing emoji, and the words “Blood everywhere” and “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.”?

Clues to this family’s mindset can be found in Jennifer Crumbley’s Nov. 11, 2016, open letter to Donald Trump just after Trump’s presidential election victory. Jennifer’s letter referred to school trouble, financial struggles, resentments—but also hope for the future. She said she was skipping car insurance payments to hire a tutor to help her son, who was 10 at the time, and blamed the “common core” curriculum used by his teachers for her inability to teach him herself the math he needed to do well in school. She expressed the resentments of many predominantly rural, middle class whites at the cultural and occupational changes originating from America’s most populous cities, which are leaving them behind economically and culturally alienated. Frustrated at being ignored and fearful of being “replaced” by brown-skinned people, they are politically mobilized to impose on these big cities the rural values of unfettered gun ownership, Christian religiocentrism, and traditional patriarchy. Trump’s MAGA political platform is a celebration of those values. The Crumbley family clearly celebrated those values and resented school officials’ interference with the practice of those values. The right wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court is now poised to impose those values on all Americans. Decisions involving unfettered gun rights and restrictions on a woman’s right to reproductive choice will be handed down in June.

William McCarthy