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12/14/2013

One Nation, Under The Gun...

I try to add a sense of acerbic humor to my entries here.  I try to temper my opinions with a little bit of rough laughter in hopes of making this a more engaging read, and also lightening the mood a little bit.

This is not going to be one of those entries.

One day short of the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting in my native Connecticut, and a mere eight miles away from Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, the news pages were again graced with the sad, senseless news that another school in our country fell victim to a shooting.

It doesn't matter to me that there was only one innocent shot as opposed to the 26 who perished in Newtown.  There is no way to quantify these incidents.  There's no scale to "measure" tragedy.  It's tragic.  It's senseless, painful, and heart-breaking.

I'm not going to get into a debate about gun control here.  Let me say that.  I have heard impassioned arguments from both sides of that argument, and I can see reason to both sides.  I've read heated Facebook posts which I swear could have led to fisticuffs and broken friendships.  Not only that, I don't know all the fine points about this issue, so I'm not even going to pretend to be an expert. 

This is not a political statement.  This is a musing about the world in which we live.

I heard a newscaster yesterday compare this situation to Columbine, saying the two were not similar in that minformation was quickly dissiminated regarding the Arapahoe shooter, whereas Columbine was more chaotic.  I respectfully disagree.  They were similar enough for my tastes.  One unstable individual with a gun with the intent to hurt innocent people in an educational institution.

I want this to end.  I want to never hear about this again, in any city, in any state throughout this country.  I hope and pray I never have to endure watching another reporter interviewing shaken students and parents mere hours after their world was violated in such a heartless, mindless way. 

I'm not a parent, but I hope to be one day.  And I can't even begin to fathom what this kind of situation does to one with children.  Even if you're miles away from where the story breaks.  How can you feel comfortable sending your kids to school?  How can you feel OK leaving them alone for eight hours a day or more?  How do you ever stop being scared?

And as someone who lived through it, how do you recover?  How do you move on and sleep comfortably at night? 

I didn't know anyone affected by Sandy Hook personally.  What I know is how I felt when I heard the news.  Driving back to work from my lunch break, I had the radio on a local AM station to hear the latest.  I remember somber, serious voices reporting the news.  I remember feeling violated that this happened practically in my backyard. 

And I remember crying.

And it's not just our schools.  Ever since April 20, 1999, public shootings throughout our nation have become all too prevelent.  Don't believe me?  Ask Gabby Giffords.  Or the folks in Aurora, CO who just wanted to catch a midnight showing of that hip new Batman movie. 

If it's not a problem, then why do I know the names Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Seung-Hui Cho, Jared Lee Loughner, James Eagan Holmes, and Adam Lanza?  How sad is it that I only needed Wikipedia to jog my memory on less than half of those names? 

I don't know what the answer is.  I don't know if there is a way to succinctly, accurately address this trend.  But we have to admit that it is a trend.

We fixate on stupid stuff in this country.  We focus on Miley's twerking, Kanye and Kim's racy new video, how awful Homeland has become, and Bob Barker turning 90 years old.  Hell, I'll admit probably 90 percent of the stuff that I've written about on this blog is beyond trivial. 

This is serious.  If it's not already an epidemic, it will be if we don't start having serious, sensible, and above all else bipartisan dialogue about what needs to prevent these kind of incidents from happening again. 

I remember a story about a student who attended Virginia Tech during that shooting who was actually a graduate of Columbine High School and lived through that tragedy.  Think about that.  One girl had to endure two shootings that left people dead in the double-digits.  What are the odds?

In this country, not that bad, apparently.

I'm not saying it's easy.  It's not.  But it's important.  I hope we wake up soon.

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