Sandy Hook: The Tragedy That Changed America’s Heart

Nothing since 9/11 has affected so many Americans with so much grief and heartache. The horrific mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut reaches most of us — Democrats and Republicans — deep down and on a personal level; we can only imagine what the families of the victims are going through. Our hearts go out to them, through much sorrow and the shedding of many tears.

Personally, the tragedy has made me feel so helpless and I have cried my eyes out too many times to count. Children should never have to face such an awful ordeal.

The mass killing at Sandy Hook elementary school — unlike other tragedies of this type — revealed a common ground between all of us: it is our children — do not hurt our children.

Because of the tragedy, the United States Congress is talking serious with each other and there seems to be something in the air, perhaps. Both Republicans and Democrats are discussing a renewal on an assault rifle ban that President Clinton put in place in 1994 and which Congress let expire in 2004. There is also talk about a requirement for background checks on all gun purchases, along with discussions about mental health funding; all good things in my books.

Then of course, we have been down this road before. We have watched as something Americans care about deeply, get bogged down in politics and misinformation and then nothing at all gets accomplished. Special interests steps in with their big dollars and their influence with lawmakers who they give those dollars to and before long, any worthwhile bill is either put down entirely or stalled into infinity.

This time it will be the NRA (National Rifle Association) at the top of those special interests, with lots of dollars and power, pushing to keep the status quo as far as gun control laws. The NRA has already piped in and as usual, their solution for gun violence is more guns. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre in a statement, responded to the tragedy for the first time by saying:

“I call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation,”

For one thing, it would cost our federal government a great deal of money to put an armed guard at every single school throughout our country, and especially during the current fiscal crisis.

For another, do we really want to turn our schools into armed fortresses? Should our children grow up in a culture that says they need to be afraid of everything?

I think we need to look deeper into our society as a whole and ask ourselves why people like Adam Lanza, the shooter who mowed down 20 innocent children at an elementary school before killing himself, has so much hate to commit such hideous acts . Is it because of violent video games and movies or is it because so much hate and prejudice still exist beneath the surface of our society and passed down through the generations?

What do we teach our children? Do we instill in them love, compassion and selflessness, or do we pass on our own prejudice and fears? So much of what we become, depends on the values given to us when we were young.

We must step forward into a more civilized society and lay down our fears, along with our guns. Our nation was not built on fear but of hope and a yearning for freedom. The principal and those teachers, who gave their lives, did not allow fear to guide their actions, but their love and duty to those children.

America has changed, how much can only be determined by what comes of the shared compassion we feel for the families of those kids. Any parent knows in their hearts that it could have been their child and that frightens them to the bone. It is that shared heart knowledge that has the power to make real change in our congress and bring forth comprehensive gun control laws. Perhaps this time it will be enough.

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