Little children at Sandy Hook Elementary were told by police to "hold hands and shut your eyes" as they exited the building following Friday’s mass shooting in Connecticut, according to witnesses. Wanting to spare students from further trauma, officials tried to protect them from the grisly scene. What these kids endured was already so far outside the boundaries of normal, so excruciatingly traumatic, perhaps they will never be the same; I don’t believe any of us will be.
America is one large community- a family of 315 million souls, and it seems every one of us felt this tragedy as if it’d happened one town over. We watched every news update, called our loved ones, and cried at our televisions and laptops. The folks in Newtown are in countless thoughts and prayers. We send so much love to this community, the force of it should measure on the Richter scale; yet no amount of concern can alleviate the pain this town is feeling, especially the 26 families who lost a loved one.
“How can we stop this from happening again?” is the most pressing thought lingering in my mind - the unanswered paradox. We live in a country that values freedom above all other things, including the freedom to own guns, yet we struggle with the right of everyone to be safe. How can we balance these two things…where is the line?
As a mother and empathetic person, I say the line is on the side of the angels: take care of the vulnerable first, and regard the rights of the powerful second. Children are unsafe in this country because of gun violence, and so it is logical the government crackdown on illegal gun ownership and enforce much stricter regulations on who can own what kind of gun.
There are three actions Congress can take immediately to begin the process of reducing gun violence: 1. Make semi-automatic weapons illegal- bring back the Brady Bill. 2. Anyone wanting a hunting rifle or small hand gun should pass a psychiatric evaluation. 3. Private sales of guns should be illegal; if someone wants to sell a weapon, they should have to utilize a reputable dealer.
Until sensible gun regulations are passed and enforced, no new gun permits should be allowed to anyone. The NRA or anyone else arguing gun ownership is a basic right can just suck it up and cope with regulations. The rights of the few are not as important as the safety of little children, and other innocent bystanders.
What happened at Sandy Hook highlighted the plain truth that we have a national crisis with gun violence. Like any other national crisis, this requires immediate attention and action by Congress, state governments, and our president. Like the Sandy Storm, recovery from this tragedy requires leadership on all levels: we must fix what is broken.
When Pres. Obama choked up during his news conference the day of the Sandy Hook tragedy, I felt hearted he would do the right thing, and push forward sensible gun control measures. What the rest of us can do is call and email our representatives and demand they work with him to make this happen. On a state level, much can be done also to restrict access to guns for those who shouldn’t have them. Citizens make a difference when we make our outrage heard.
Little children were told to hold hands and close their eyes while they walked past the bodies of teachers and students in Newtown. It is time for grown Americans to open our eyes and take every necessary step to prevent this from happening again.