OUR VIEW: Action must follow Newtown talk, tearsLast Friday, students at L.B. Williams Elementary School in Mitchell were making gingerbread houses. So were students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
Last Friday, students at L.B. Williams Elementary School in Mitchell were making gingerbread houses.
So were students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The teachers and children who were slaughtered in Newtown could have been our teachers, and our children. Only the luck of the killer being there rather than here protected us.
What, then, should be done to prevent this from happening to others?
We know we cannot eliminate the possibility of bad things happening to innocent people. But we also know the inevitability of crime is not a justification for doing nothing to fight it.
There are things we should do. We’ve suffered enough mass shootings to know that:
• Most of these atrocities have been committed by young men. Clearly, our system for identifying and treating troubled juvenile males needs strengthening. Our schools and colleges, as well as our nation’s mental health network, should be supplied with funding and direction to develop standards and practices by which the kinds of young men who might commit such heinous acts can be identified and treated.
• Guns are the other common element of these attacks. It is time to renew the long-expired assault weapons ban, and we should consider a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines. Gun ownership is enshrined in our Constitution and should be maintained as a right of American citizenship, but it is time for gun enthusiasts to be further inconvenienced. With the capabilities of our modern computer data systems, we could and should be doing more to prevent the sale of guns to people who should not own them.
• We must do something about the glorification of gun violence we’ve allowed to permeate the culture of adolescence. Because of the proliferation of grotesquely graphic and violent video games, many people in our modern society, mostly young men, have acted out thousands of digital murders by the time they reach adulthood. Is it any wonder that as these video games have become more realistic and violent, there’s been a parallel rise in mass shootings?
• School security must be analyzed across the country, and standards should be enforced. We don’t advocate armed guards at schools, which would only surround children with still more guns. Instead, we recognize that if Sandy Hook Elementary had not instituted such a careful security system and lockdown plan, more lives would have been lost. Every school, without exception, should have similar security measures and lockdown procedures.
• Leadership is vital. President Barack Obama has tearfully pledged “meaningful action” in response to the Newtown tragedy. Unfortunately, we’ve heard the same political platitudes after every mass shooting since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.
Perhaps nothing would have prevented Adam Lanza from acquiring guns and shooting teachers and young children last Friday. But we can and should take steps to reduce the frequency and lethality of such attacks in the future.
We’ve had plenty of talk and tears in this age of mass shootings. Now it’s time for action.