For the parents of the 20 children slaughtered by a mad gunman at their elementary school in Newtown, Conn. last Friday, Dec. 14, there is nothing to celebrate this holiday season.
They’ve all lost the chance to see their children graduate from school, grow up to be productive young men and women, marry and have children of their own and enjoy all the other things life has to offer. Many of those parents had Christmas presents which their lost sons or daughters won’t unwrap on Christmas morning.
The promise of those 20 kids was extinguished last Friday by a madman whose true motive for this heinous act will likely never be known.
As a nation, this horrific crime plunged us into mourning and made us question our gun laws and our people. Sadly, this has become all too commonplace. The massacre in Connecticut marked the fourth mass shooting this year, following the rampages at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. and a mall in Portland, Ore., just a couple of days before Newtown.
Prior to this year, we also endured the horrors of shooting massacres at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va., Fort Hood in Texas and a shopping center in Tucson, Ariz., the latter of which almost claimed the life of a member of Congress.
What the hell is going on in this country?
Almost all of the mass shootings which have taken place in the last 15 years have three troubling things in common. First, the murderers used semi-automatic rifles and handguns capable of firing tens of rounds in a couple of seconds. Second, the gunmen were mentally troubled, and it seemed easier for them to obtain militarygrade machine guns than professional help.
And the third thing each of these shootings have in common may be the most damning of all: that—despite all the mourning and lament and anger and calls to action in the aftermath—our leaders have done little to stop gun-wielding psychopaths from spilling blood across our land.
“We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change,” President Barack Obama told the people of Newtown and the nation at a memorial vigil on Sunday, Dec. 16. “No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this. ”
Obama’s statements are 100 percent true. But now, he and other lawmakers in Washington—combined with state and local governments— must finally end years of disgraceful inaction and follow through on the promise of change to stop future massacres before a single bullet is fired.
If it means banning assault weapons, it must be done.
If it means tightening existing regulations to make sure guns do not fall into the wrong hands, it must be done.
If it means making mental health care more accessible for all Americans, it must be done.
We no longer have the option to forget when it comes to gun violence in the U.S. We must act to safeguard our nation and our children. We owe it to the 20 innocent children who were executed last Friday to do something about gun violence so we can save future generations from such heartache.
It’s time for all Americans to stand up and say, “Enough!” No more empty promises and false leadership. We must act to prevent future bloodshed, lest the Newtown children have died in vain.