Editor’s note: Surely everyone, as they learned of the tragedy unfolding in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, felt an emotional reaction as they tried and most likely failed to reason how someone could make the decision to murder 20 elementary-aged students as these sat trapped in their classroom. Every member of Reformer Editorial Board has children of similar age or younger, and so we were challenged for most of the day trying to find the right words to express the grief, disbelief and outrage we are all feeling. In time, we will do so. Instead, today, we wanted to offer this space to our Digital First Media colleagues in New Haven, Conn., about 30 miles from where Friday’s shooting took place. For them, this wasn’t another national tragedy, it happened right in their own backyard.
The New Haven, Conn., Register
There is no explanation, only heartbreak at the massacre of innocent children, many in kindergarten, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Once again we have been reminded of the horror that the hateful and deranged can wreak upon the innocent. All too often it is a lone male who has lost touch with himself and the world who has the power with a gun to express his demented rage in the death of others.
By the time the shooting stopped Friday, 20 children, many of them reportedly in a kindergarten classroom, were dead, as well as six adults, including a teacher who was reportedly the gunman’s mother.
The gunman killed himself.
It was the second worst school shooting after a mentally disturbed student shot 32 people to death at Virginia Tech in 2007.
Although the shooting followed a familiar pattern, it was different for us. It happened here, in Connecticut, in a place that seemed safe. That illusion has been shattered. Although we cannot conduct our lives in fear, we know that there is no place where people gather that is immune from such senseless death. Lone gunmen in the United States have killed far more Americans than have died in all the al-Qaida attacks since Sept. 11.
This slaughter of the innocents is also different because of the age of victims, as young as 5 years old.
Calls for stronger gun control laws have been shrugged off after past mass shootings. In the past, President Barack Obama has avoided the political volatile issue of gun control.
After Friday’s shootings the White House again brushed off questions about tougher gun measures. But, then the president spoke, not so much as the nation’s leader but as the father of two daughters. This time he promised action to stop such future slaughters. Again, he did not specify any specific action. But millions of parents hope he will act to try and make schools, movie theaters, offices a little safer.
Children have a right to grow up, not be shot down in their classroom.