By Caio Goncalves
The events of December 14, 2012 will forever go down in American history as a day where all of our breaths were frozen in our throats. Amidst so much carnage, there was so much tireless grief, and so much disbelief at such magnitude of evil. The fracture of the national psyche could not, and still has not to this day been fully repaired. But since the shooting, we have grown numb to it. We have continued to live in a paranoid state, wondering where the next massacre will be and if our local mall is a safe place. This tragedy of all tragedies which claimed the lives of twenty children and six of their dedicated educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, catalyzed a powerful connectedness between us all; a deep sense of resilience and common purpose which was cherished after that horrific day. Though all that suffering seems in vain, for the massacre at Sandy Hook was neither the first nor will be the last time our country will grieve due to a mass shooting.
Just days ago, the world media exploded into a frenzy after a gunman opened fire at Los Angeles’s LAX airport, seemingly targeting TSA officers. The gunman injured seven people and killed one. Days after this shooting, there were reports of a gunman at our own CentralConnecticutStateUniversity which resulted in an emergency lockdown and widespread panic at the campus. That same night an armed man opened fire inside a New Jersey mall, before turning the gun on himself. These stories flood our everyday news outlets and we have grown to expect them. If there is not a story on the news regarding some kind of shooting in a public place in America, then the news day is not complete.
The mass shooting in Newtown which occurred nearly a year ago, was truly a tipping point for this country. It certainly hit home for all Americans to know that their children–their babies, could be at risk of being shot and killed at school. The country grieved collectively, and felt the pain of those parents who lost their children. A petition on “We The People,” demanding stricter gun laws had an unprecedented number of signatures. Days after the tragedy, President Obama seemed to want to continue the country-wide conversation regarding gun control reform saying, “Can we honestly say we are doing our best to protect our children?” Despite his efforts to comment on the shooting and urge congress to produce something substantial regarding real gun control laws, just as he did following the shootings at Tucson, and Aurora, nothing was ultimately done. The public moved on to a happier story, and forget about those killed in mass shootings. But forget about mass shootings for a second, gun related deaths in this country are a serious problem. Every single day, thirty four people die due to gun related crimes, nine of them being children.
It is perplexing how long it has taken this country to demand a change after so many mass shootings. After public outcry following the Sandy Hook shootings, little was done by our law makers to actually set forth legislation to protect our country against going through this again. The states with the highest crime rates have the highest gun ownership rates. America has nearly 300 million guns today at the hands of civilians, which is almost one per person. The NRA has made the case of the argument that an assault ban would eventually lead to the slippery slope of total civilian disarmament, which is ludicrous. The Constitution tells us that we have the right to bear arms, and that right is not going anywhere. However, it is logical to eliminate these war machines from our neighborhoods and thus reduce the number of gun related homicides. Japan and Australia are two countries who have strict national gun laws. In 2006, there were 10, 225 gun related deaths in America compared to 2 in Japan. Less guns will in turn equal less gun related deaths, it is obvious.
Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, FortHood, Oak Creek, Newtown, LAX. How many more? How many more colleges? How many more classrooms? How many more houses of faith? How many more shopping malls? How many more street corners? Demand a plan right now. For the children of Sandy Hook demand a plan. It is not too soon, it is too late. Now is the time, before we all know someone who loves someone on that list. No more who they might have been, no more what if we had just done something yesterday. Our country can do better than this. It is time for our leaders to act and for us to demand change. Enough.
featured image (c) Jeremy Collins