Thursday, May 23, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
December 26, 2012
The Christmas season is one normally filled with much joy in the many households that celebrate the holiday across the country and across the world. This year, that joy was tempered by the recent mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The senseless massacre carried out by 20-year-old Adam Lanza the morning of Dec. 14 has captured the attention of many - not just those directly affected by the tragedy, but those 3,000 miles away here at home.
We wonder how those poor people are dealing with the loss of their child or adult family member. Such heartache is difficult at any time, but during the holidays? It is unimaginable to most.
We wonder why the shooter would target a school and the innocent children, teachers and administrators -- 20 students and six adults lost their lives at Sandy Hook.
We wonder how such a tragedy occurred in the first place and how it could have been prevented.
We wonder if an incident like this could occur closer to home, in one of our own local schools. If you think not, think again; a senseless shooting took place earlier this month at Clackamas Town Center, a shopping mall near Portland. Thankfully, yet still tragically, it was on a much smaller scale. It could have been worse.
We wonder what types of precautions and protocol our local school districts -- and other entities like city and county government for their buildings - have in place. What, if any, changes will they make to keep our children, teachers and other staff members safe from harm?
We wonder what it will take to prevent such an incident from ever happening again -- if preventing such an event is, in reality, even possible. Do we need armed security guards at every school and government building? Should teachers carry weapons?
At the forefront of the prevention discussion is the always controversial debate on gun control and the right to bear arms. The U.S. Constitution grants us the right to own guns. That right should never be taken away. But the time has come for some concessions from gun advocates as to the types of guns and gear one is allowed to possess. Should ordinary citizens be allowed to purchase and own massive automatic assault rifles and bulletproof vests, like the Sandy Hook shooter obtained? That in itself could be a tipoff to a potentially tragic event in the making.
Here at home and across the country, we are divided on solutions to stopping these senseless acts of violence.
There is a saying: "Guns don't kill people; people kill people." But how do we keep guns out of the hands of the people who will kill other people?
Like it or not, some form of gun limitations need to be imposed. But as the discussion and, in some cases, anger, evolves around gun control legislation, there are other important points to remember. This issue is about more than simply outlawing all guns, which won't solve the problem. The bad guys will always find a source for weapons. And, on the other side, there are many responsible gun owners who are unfairly targeted in these debates.
What we must do is a better job of helping the mentally ill. More importantly, we need to find out why our society is failing in identifying and caring for the mentally ill before they commit violent acts like at Sandy Hook.
And, just as important, what will be done to counter the negative effects of gun violence portrayed in video games, movies, television and throughout much of the media that has desensitized so many of us to killings?
There are so many questions to be asked. The answers won't be easy to come by. But it is time to start finding a solution.