Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy
Christmas is an occasion when families are supposed to share the gift of love, but this Christmas an entire nation will mourn the loss of twenty students who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School, along with the six adults who were killed by a twenty-year-old gunman in the nation’s second-worst school shooting. In 2007 a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech which is to date the nation’s worst school shooting.
As many of these young elementary school students anticipated the joy of opening their gifts on Christmas day, that joy was suddenly turned into sorrow by a young man carrying two 9mm handguns who abruptly ended their lives in a meaningless act of violence.
The surviving children of this awful massacre are forced to grow up before their time as the memory of this terrible day in school will certainly rob them of a childhood that should not have been filled with adult-sized trouble. They weren’t supposed to witness their friends and schoolmates die in such a horrifying manner.
We Have Run Out of Places to Run
All across America, people who at one time lived in overcrowded inner cities have moved to rural areas hoping to escape the ever growing problem of violence that many times accompanies life in a big city. But are we really any safer? We have run out of safe havens because no place can be considered safe in a society that is suffering from economic strain and the fear of crime. No one could have imagined such bloodshed in the small town of Newtown, Connecticut that has a population of 27,000 people with a police force of three detectives.
Our neighborhoods are no longer safe as long as there are gun laws that refuse to tackle the specifics of gun ownership. Gun laws have now evolved into an uncontrollable political lobbying strategy because we have not carefully thought through to the end result of the enactment of such tragedies as the one that took place in Sandy Hook Elementary School. These twenty children did not have to die.
Do We Feel Safer or More Threatened?
Every citizen should have the right to owning a gun for protection, but how far are we willing to go, and what price are we willing to pay to have that right? Owning handguns and lethal automatic weapons will not make us safer. We have to make ourselves safer. While owning a gun fosters a feeling of being safe, but take a moment to ask yourself, are you really safe?
If everyone in a mall, including yourself carried a handgun, having it holstered in plain view would you feel safer shopping in that particular mall as opposed to shopping in a mall where handguns were not allowed regardless of your permit to carry one? How would you know if the person carrying the gun had good motives or ill intentions? Could you guarantee that years of using medication that has just recently been suspected of altering chemical reactions in the brain, or the fact that they are dealing with traumatic family issues would not make them snap and cause them to start shooting the gun that they are carrying, which by the way, is perfectly legal?
Imagine if you will, a law enforcement officer responding to a crime, only to arrive at the scene of the crime to find fifty people wearing holstered handguns. In fear of his or her own life, everyone at the scene now becomes a suspect and a potential target for that law enforcement officer. Would it be morally right of you to expect that the responding officers simply trust you purely on the merit of your words?
Fear Without Restraint Is Dangerous
Having a fear of the unexpected will prompt many people to overreact. The general consensus is one can never be too safe. When it comes to gun ownership, gun safety should precede your own safety. If all you want to do is be safe, then buy as many guns as you can afford; but if you want to insure the safety of others, like your little four-year-old, or the neighbor’s five-year-old who comes to visit, gun safety should be at the top of your list.
Addressing the question of owning a gun to protect your family, what type of gun and how many of them are required to provide such protection? Most people who own a collection of such dangerous weapons has manufactured a hypothetic situation in their minds, in which they create a scenario that an all probability may never happen. Why would anyone need a collection of guns for protection? What is the chance of a person needing three or four handguns, two or three assault rifles and more than one shotgun for self-protection? For me, the question now becomes, what are you planning to protect yourself from?
Everything we do requires that we have self-discipline. For example, if we did not place restraints on our eating habits everyone would be obese or have serious health issues because everything that tastes good is not necessarily good for us. So it is with gun ownership and safety; just because it feels safe does not necessarily mean that it is safe.
Politics vs. Reality
In lieu of the Sandy Hook School shooting it is obvious that we need to put into practice stiffer gun laws and take the necessary course of action to insure that these laws are upheld to prevent more innocent bloodshed. In spite of the rash of mass killings by irresponsible people who have access to handguns and assault weapons, Americans have not demanded the enactment of laws that would help prevent such violent acts. It is one thing to have a right to own lethal weapons, but it should spark great concern in the hearts of every American when these weapons are used to kill our children like the innocent little lives that were lost in the Sandy Hook tragedy.
As a means of securing money and other favors from those who support gun ownership, politicians have used gun control as a tool to reach their personal goals which often involve monetary gain, as well as to guarantee their re-election. But the time has come to lay aside the politics that has been responsible for the loss of so many lives. There is a startling reality that exists in our neighborhoods and far too many people are willing to turn their heads and ignore it.
There are too many loopholes in gun laws that make it too easy to own and carry dangerous weapons. We have to have strict laws that are not politically motivated. We should at least care enough about our children and law enforcement officers to make it difficult for untrained and irresponsible people to gain access to guns to protect them from the madness that says that we are a safer society if everyone owns a gun. Gun ownership, like alcohol serves to give people a false sense of safety. Alcohol can be referred to as “courage in a bottle,” whereas handguns and assault weapons can be dubbed “courage in a bullet.”
In our wanting to be safe, before we make irrational decisions about owning guns and passing laws that make it easy for these guns to fall into the wrong hands, let us think about the safety of others. We can begin by remembering the loss of these innocent little children whose contribution to humanity will never be realized. We will never know who these children might have become, what academic achievements they might have achieved or what significant impact their contribution might have had on their country and the world.
Let us remember their little friends who will wake up on Monday morning to the shocking reality that their little schoolmate will not be returning to school. And although there are no words to say to a grieving parent, let us remember them and the other adults who gave their lives in this horrific tragedy. If we do not lose sight of their suffering perhaps we might be able to prevent another Sandy Hook tragedy. Let us unite for the common cause of honoring those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School, thereby living up to our name, the United States of America.