EDITORIAL: Newtown, Conn., tragedy opens our hearts, ears
Dec 18, 2012 (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The news stunned the world, yet the scenario was all too familiar. A young man with a tortured psyche was able to get his hands on deadly weapons and use them against others.
Adam Lanza, 20, is the latest perpetrator, after his killing spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the latest community to become part of school violence lore.
The legal owner of the weapons, Lanza's mother, apparently paid with her life. So did 26 others, including 20 elementary schoolchildren. Lanza eventually took his own life.
Two underlying themes continue to progress:
It is too easy for a sick mind to obtain deadly weapons.
Schools, like movie theaters and malls, make soft targets for those wishing to make a demented statement.
Where do we go from here
President Barack Obama addressed the nation Sunday night, saying that in the coming weeks, we would use "whatever power this office holds" to engage with law enforcement, mental health professionals, parents and educators in an effort to prevent more tragedies like Newtown.
What we do know for sure is that we have asked so much from our teachers over the past generation. They deal with behaviors of older students that should have been curtailed at home. They nurture the younger students, many who need it much more than others.
Their dedication to the children in their care could not have been demonstrated any more explicitly than it was Friday in Newtown. Stories of the principal and a school psychologist dying while trying to reach the gunman are combined with details of teachers killed while shielding their students.
We know what these teachers and staff have accomplished in their shortened lives and what they were made of when confronted with their moment of crisis. Their actions were heroic.
Conversely, we have no idea on what sort of contributions we may have missed out on when the lives of these young children were extinguished. Were significant medical or scientific discoveries thwarted Was there a future president among these children Who is to say
As with most any child, in most any community, the potential was virtually infinite.
Of course, the families simply want their little girls and boys back.
This case was similar -- and different than those past. Deranged or damaged minds were again at the controls. However, in this latest instance, the ages of the children -- all either 6 or 7 years old -- made it even more incomprehensible.
If this event is not enough to prompt some sort of meaningful change, what will
As the president has mentioned, there's plenty to discuss.
Is the prevalence of extreme violence on television, videos, the Internet and a host of other mediums part of the equation
Should automatic and assault-type weapons be discussed on a separate gun-control level
Do the parameters of the Second Amendment apply in the same manner as when the amendment was crafted
The gun control issue, in the past, has proven to be quite divisive. It is becoming increasingly clear that we all need to listen to the upcoming national discussion and attempt to be active in coming to sound conclusions on ways to stop this scourge.
We are ready to listen.
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