Vladimir Putin called President Obama to give his condolences for the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that occurred in Newtown, CT last week.
As an American, interestingly enough, when I first heard about this horrific tragedy, my mind didn’t go to the Columbine shootings, which is the natural memory for most people. Instead, I thought of the Beslan school siege that occurred in Beslan, Russia on September 1, 2004. Yes, that was a situation of terrorists taking over the school, and it was a hostage situation, but for some reason, in the back of my mind, I had always felt in my bones that something tragic like Beslan would happen with little children in one of our schools. I don’t know why. Most Americans probably don’t even know what Beslan is.
Beslan taught me that anything can happen anywhere at any time. Russia deals with tragedy all the time; they have a history built around it. I think, as Americans, we are new to this type of tragedy, especially with the advent of Columbine and September 11th, and my fear is these events will keep happening. For many of you reading this post, the connection between Beslan and Newtown may be confusing, so I urge you to read this fascinating article in the New York Times entitled: “What Drives Suicidal Mass Killers” by Adam Lankford, who ends the article by stating:
I can’t help but wonder about Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Seung-Hui Cho and Adam Lanza. If they had been born in Gaza or the West Bank, shaped by terrorist organizations’ hateful propaganda, would they have strapped bombs around their waists and blown themselves up? I’m afraid the answer is yes.
Now you can see how the parallels between both tragedies are logical for me. But really, I guess how I processed the Newtown massacre isn’t important. What is important is that this event wakes up America. I believe that if you live in the country with coyotes and bears and the police station is miles from your house, you have a right to protect yourself. But what I don’t understand is why civilians, including mentally-ill civilians, can easily purchase a Glock or other type of assault weapon? If someone can please comment on this post and give me a solid reason for having a Glock or another assault weapon in their home, I would appreciate it. I can’t think of a good reason, especially since it certainly doesn’t take a Glock to kill a deer, bear, or if absolutely necessary, an intruder. Won’t a hunting rifle do the same thing?
Will we forget Newtown in a few weeks? Will another Newton occur? I hope not on both counts. Will our schools turn into the Wild West or Israel, where absolutely every adult is armed? Maybe. This morning I listened to a rural Texas superintendent on CNN, who has an armed staff, claim that his school didn’t go on lockdown when all other schools were.
This leaves me with the question…As a society, what should we do? How should we protect our children? One innovative idea is for every gun owner to carry insurance, and if that gun is used in a mass murder or anything else, the owner will be held personally responsible. I just listened to a press conference in which the NRA wants to implement a plan for trained, armed security in every school. Other people I talk to say to ban all weapons entirely and create a society of peace. For me, whatever answer will stop this type of violence is the right answer.
I live 25 minutes from Newtown. I drove there yesterday to pay my respects. I know people directly affected by this tragedy, who are in mourning. I have friends in Newtown, and I go to a networking group that is based in the town next to Newtown, and we have Newtown residents and teachers in that group. So when I heard about this tragedy, I was devastated, as was the rest of America.
I implore you to look at the photo above. Really look at it. This is a roadside memorial for the young victims of the Newtown tragedy. As I drove through Sandy Hook and Newtown yesterday, I saw funerals at every church I passed. Mourners in black. I saw a funeral procession driving through a cemetery…a final resting place for someone who should have never died.
My thoughts go out to the victims’ families and friends of the Newtown tragedy. May the little souls and brave teachers who protected them rest in eternal peace…