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Nine years, yet not enough has changed

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

There are some anniversaries it can be almost too painful to wish to remember: the ninth one of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is perhaps the most intense of those. It was Dec. 14, 2012, when the small town of Newtown, just about 40 miles from here, had its heart ripped out by a murderer who entered the school with a Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle and 10 magazines with 30 rounds each.

That day, 20-year-old Adam Lanza first killed his mother at their home, then went to the school and shot and killed 26 people: 20 children between six and seven years old, and six adult staff members. We all heard these chilling details nine years ago, and since, but in light of the fact that public figures like Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones have called this nightmare a hoax, these facts should always be repeated and remembered.

Connecticut has since taken steps to make gun laws more restrictive to help prevent such tragedies from happening again. Yet across the country, school shootings continue to be perhaps the worst part of our culture. (Racism and the ravages it has created over centuries might just win that top spot.) Only during COVID shutdowns was there finally relief from this societal scourge. Can it actually be that the only way to reduce these shootings would be to close our schools? Give those who are sick and violent fewer targets?

The will to face down the result of too many guns available to too many monsters who can obtain them and shoot innocent children and adults at schools is not yet in wide evidence in our society. A combination of gun control law reform, school security and mental health awareness and treatment that would have an effect on those who are entering schools with guns has not yet been successfully widely defined and implemented. If ever it could be, now would be the time.

Connecticut’s U.S. Senators Murphy and Blumenthal are both committed to legislation to address school shootings, but of course the Second Amendment, the NRA and those who vote to keep all guns available to those who shouldn’t have them are obstacles to passing it. Voters who agree that such change has to happen to move our country along the right path must let their representatives know that.

There have been at least 29 school shootings during 2021. (Go to www.edweek.org for more details on them.) The latest, on Nov. 30 at Oxford High School in Michigan, is the deadliest. The parents of the 15-year-old shooter have also been arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter after buying the gun for their son. The shooter himself has been charged as an adult with murder, terrorism and other crimes.

But every school shooting, and every shooting affecting children and other innocent victims across the United States, is deeply life changing for those directly involved,   their loved ones and their communities for years to come. And every one gravely diminishes us as a nation. Action must be taken, and will only happen if Americans support it and let their legislators know they will vote for those who support it.

There will be a vigil on the ninth anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy on Tuesday, Dec. 14, from 5 to 6 p.m. in front of The White Hart Inn in Salisbury. Take a candle for the ceremony. It is meant to remember those who died that day, and all victims of gun violence.

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