This past weekend, many of us found our thoughts continually navigating toward the terrible tragedy that occurred in Connecticut. An armed young man first shot his mother and then went to the local elementary school and proceeded to kill 20 children and 6 staff members before taking his own life. How can this happen? Who is to blame? How can we prevent it from happening again? After all, this has become a much more common event in the past few years.
We know for a fact that the weapon was guns, so do we blame gun makers? The NRA? Irresponsible gun owners who have guns unlocked?
We are being told the young man has Asperbergers, part of the spectrum of autism. Do we blame his diagnosis? Or are there other mental illnesses that we are unaware of at this time? Do we blame his mother for not getting help before this happened?
But the biggest issue for all of us, which we have struggled to address after so many of these shootings, is how do we prevent this from ocurring again? Some people say we can’t, that the genie is out of the bottle. Guns are out there, and they will eventually find themselves in some deranged young person’s hands. Others say to ban all handguns and assault rifles, as their only purpose is to harm people. And still others say take away violent video games. These are instilling in our youth the idea that life is not so fragile. It is numbing them to life. And there are yet others who say that we, as a nation, do not take serious our mental health illnesses, too often placing these sick individuals in jail after they have committed serious crimes against our communities instead of addressing their illnesses prior to these acts of aggression.
I say we need to address the entire spectrum of issues. But I am not sure that we are brave enough to tackle them, especially our politicians. Are they brave enough to stand up to the powerful NRA and say we are going to look at this issue without regard to what your organization goal is? Are they brave enough to say to the American people, we have to put more of your tax money toward the issue of mental health because we haven’t put enough resources toward this effort? Are they brave enough to say to the corporations that make huge sums of money off video games like Mortal Death Combat that they need to stop making such violent videos?
They will only be that brave if they know we want them to investigate all these issues. We want to make our communities safer for all of us, including our first graders across the nation.
On Friday, I sent a message to my representative, John Kline, asking for his public statement on the occurrance at Sandy Hook. I have yet to see his response. In fact, I read last night that David Gregory of Meet the Press contacted 31 pro-gun federal government representatives to come on air to start the dialogue. Not one took up the offer. They are not brave enough. Mike Huckabee stated on Fox News that he thought this occurred because God is not in our schools. That is completely lacking sense. That is an insult to all families who follow a faith, saying that faith at home is not enough to sustain us throughout our days. Another representative told the press that the teachers should have been armed. Another nonsense response! Having weaponry in the presence of children for the remote chance that a gunman might come into your school is more dangerous to those kids than taking your chances that you will never have an intruder in your classroom.
I suppose to have this serious conversation, we have to address all issues, including the nonsense ones. Are we brave enough? Time will tell.