By Craig Robinson
The news and commentary following last week’s disturbing school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut is inescapable. Everyone has an opinion on the gruesome events that left 26 people dead. The 20 young elementary school aged kids that were murdered by Adam Lanza are especially difficult to process and understand.
When the news broke that another school shooting had occurred last week, my initial reaction was sadness, which was then quickly followed by disappointment because such heinous actions have become far too common in America.
When I learned that the gunman shot up an elementary school, killing 20 children between the ages of five and ten years old, I was speechless. My initial thoughts and feelings were replaced with complete emptiness. How could someone become so deranged that they storm an elementary school and kill 20 innocent little children days before Christmas?
The feeling I was experiencing wasn’t new to me, it was the same empty feeling I felt on September 11, 2001. Like then, my first reaction wasn’t to quickly weigh in on the horrific act that just occurred. Instead, I sat in shock in front a television set, or in front of my computer, digesting every nugget of information I could find.
Regardless of your political leanings, Adam Lanza’s unexplained rampage that targeted kindergarten and elementary school students has had, and will have, a major impact on the future of America. The murderer’s sick actions have prompted Americans to engage in a conversation about more than guns and mental illness. The conversation that lies before us is about our society, and what changes, if any, need to take place following this latest tragedy.
The discussion following the Newtown tragedy includes more than just political pundits, special interest advocates, and politicians. Proof of that could be heard on a local sports talk radio show in Des Moines on Tuesday night. Marty Tirrell’s afternoon sports talk show on AM 1700 “the Champ” got off subject when an advertisement for an upcoming gun show was aired and listeners called into the show to complain.
Winthrop basketball coach Pat Kelsey used the press conference following a game against Ohio State on Tuesday to talk about the shootings. Kelsey implored President Obama and Speaker Boehner to use their positions of power to make necessary changes. “I know this microphone is powerful right now because we’re playing the fourth best team in the country. I’m not going to have a microphone like this the rest of the year, maybe the rest of my life. And I’m going to be an agent of change with the thirteen young men that I get to coach every day and the two little girls that I get to raise.”
Jobs, the economy, and the national debt may be the most important issues across the country, but none of them elicit the emotional charge that comes with keeping our children safe. What transpired on Tuesday night on a Des Moines sports talk show and after a NCAA basketball game provides us a glimpse of just how many people from all different walks of life are demanding something be done to eradicate terrible events like the one last week in Connecticut from occurring again.
This is an issue of great importance to all Americans. As such, we must put our ideologies and politics aside to allow the discussion to take place.
That’s a pretty long introduction to get to the point, so here it is. This is another delicate subject that I fear Republicans/conservatives are going to find difficult to discuss. I’m a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, but conservatives can’t simply hide behind our constitutional right to own and use firearms. No political party has the high-ground on this topic, but if conservatives don’t engage in a thoughtful discussion, I fear we will once again be castigated by the media and liberal Democrats for being insensitive, backwards, and unreasonable.
While the left is already clamoring for more gun restrictions, the right needs to talk about those in our society who have created the perverted society in which we live. The Sandy Hook Elementary School had a paid psychologist, but apparently there was not an armed police officer charged keep the students safe. We have passed laws declaring schools to be safe zones, but in actuality school buildings have become defenseless targets for sick and twisted individuals like Adam Lanza.
The ongoing conversation about mental illness is a good start, but there is so much more that needs to be discussed. We live in a country that has is too quick to medicate students so that parents and teachers can handle them, but is that in the best interest of the child?
We also live in a society where human interaction has been minimized. Instead of playing outside with friends and family, kids retreat to the solitude of their bedroom or basement to interact with a video game, many of which are dark and disturbing. Instead of talking in person or on the phone, they send cryptic text messages. It’s disturbing that American children have a stronger bond with an electronic gadget than they do with another human being.
The liberal left has basically made any mention of faith or religion in our public schools a criminal offense, yet we wonder why so many young people can’t tell the difference between right and wrong. Is it really a surprise that our society has gone off the tracks?
The one thing that I know for sure is that it is much more than a gun that is to blame for Adam Lanza killing a handful of educators and their young students last week. I also know that the solution that many Americas are seeking involves a societal overhaul, not just a crack down on guns.
Before us is an opportunity to discuss what we would like the future of America to be. We all have a responsibility to participate in it.
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