Today’s mass killing of 20 children and 8 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, is now the second deadliest shooting in U.S. history. I find it chilling that I learned of today’s news after walking out of a movie theater – the same type of building that the last mass killing of Americans happened in Aurora, Colorado. (Aside from this past week’s shooting in a mall near Portland, Oregon.)
So tell me. Have we had enough? How many more times do we have to say what a tragedy it was, how we’re praying for the victims and their families? Because I’m angry and I’m tired of hearing how everyone’s praying but no one wants to deal with the problem of gun violence and gun culture. I mean really deal with it. Get off your knees, get righteously angry and act. The answer is not only stricter gun laws but the hard work of changing our culture of violence and making it easier for people to access mental health services than guns. As someone said on Twitter today, “Only in America can gun ownership be a right and healthcare be a privilege.”
Please, please throw away the usual, tired lines when mass killings in schools, houses of worship, malls, movie theaters and workplaces happen. They don’t get us anywhere. We should know by now that unspeakable acts of horror and domestic terrorism can happen in pristine, family-friendly, suburban towns and not only in inner cities where the victims of gun violence usually go unnoticed. I’ve realized this since 1999 when I was a sophomore in high school and Columbine happened. What have we been doing since then?
In a New York Times op-ed, Gregory Gibson, a parent who lost a child 20 years ago today in a shooting rampage at a Massachusetts college, raised a painful truth in our complicity and willingness to endure mass killing after mass killing. After years of advocating for gun control, he gave up, because he realized that,
…in essence, this is the way we in America want things to be. We want our freedom, and we want our firearms, and if we have to endure the occasional school shooting, so be it. A terrible shame, but hey — didn’t some guy in China just do the same thing with a knife?
Gibson goes on to write,
More horrible still — to me at least — is the inevitable lament, “How could we have let this happen?”
It is a horrible question because the answer is so simple. Make it easy for people to get guns and things like this will happen. Children will continue to pay for a freedom their elders enjoy.
As long as our country is willing to cling to guns and defend the Second Amendment at all costs, including our children’s lives, we’ll keep asking this question. We’ll keep saying what a horrible tragedy it was. We’ll wonder how someone can kill at random again. Hug your kids tight, everyone says. Pray for the victims and the families. But nothing will change. Doesn’t that make you angry?