April 2, 2015
America can’t afford to forget the senseless tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, back in December of 2012. That was the month when Adam Lanza, a mentally unstable 20-year-old, found a gun in his mother’s home and killed her. He then went over to Sandy Hook Elementary where he shot and killed “20 children and six educators” before committing suicide.
As a result of that deadly rampage, “Nine families of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School have filed notices of claim seeking money from the estate of Nancy Lanza,” Adam’s mother. The plaintiffs are seeking to recover damages from Mrs. Lanza’s homeowner’s insurance policy. They’re alleging that their loved ones died as a direct result of an “unsecured firearm” kept in her home.
Are we still placing the false security guns offer above our children’s safety?
Many Americans thought the massive Newtown tragedy would immediately motivate our federal lawmakers to pass new gun control legislation agreeable to those firmly entrenched on both sides of this issue – simply because it’s directly related to child safety at school.
Instead, the issue seemed to quickly disappear from public discourse, making some wonder if a strange form of denial had settled in again, prompting our nation to put its strong sense of ethics about protecting our children on hold again.
Now that the Newtown families are pursuing their individual legal claims, isn’t it finally time for the rest of America to seek some type of compromise legislation? Polarizing gun control issues only winds up helping those who seek out guns for violent purposes. Compromise is the form of communication favored by mature adults committed to protecting innocent lives.
What type of gun legislation can we pursue in the immediate future?
Since the Newtown cases may linger in the courts for many months or years, America must take action now and stop denying reality. We can easily improve security for our children by removing easy access to certain guns and ammunition that aren’t crucial for hunting or self-protection. This approach respects the stated interests of both sides of this controversial topic.
Our country’s current relationship with guns makes it appear to other countries that many of us must subconsciously believe that owning extremely powerful guns can help us defeat our own mortality. Obviously, death eventually ends all of our lives, regardless of our gun ownership.
Wouldn’t new media legislation also prove helpful?
If nothing else, why can’t we pass legislation that would greatly curtail the amount of specific information shared in the broadcast media during the first 48 hours after each new school shooting? A number of disturbed shooters might lose their narcissistic incentive to commit mass murder and suicide — if they knew they wouldn’t achieve an instant “dark fame” all around this country during – or shortly after — their crimes end.
America could simply stop naming these “suspects” and publishing their photos in stories during the first 48-hour time period after these crimes. As an alternative compromise to those wanting all known data instantly disseminated, legislation could dictate that only Internet and print media articles could first publish information about these crimes (without names and photos) during the first 24-hour time period. Broadcast (on-camera reporting) coverage, along with photos of the accused, could then be featured 48 hours later. We must do something since new shootings remain an apparent certainty.
Which children will perish during our next school shootings?
Tonight, many innocent children will sit down at dinner tables with their families. Given the unacceptable number of new school shootings that have occurred since the Newtown massacre – doesn’t our nation have an ethical duty to leave denial behind now? If we keep failing to pass any new type of compromise legislation — some of these young children will soon go missing from these tables.
Strong leadership remains important
While Newtown goes to court, hopefully our Washington politicians will compromise with one another other and pass new gun control and media legislation. In addition, regardless of our individual party affiliations, President Obama stands ready and willing to lead us toward useful new compromise forms of gun control that will allow most Americans to keep their current guns and ammunition.
If we do nothing and remain in denial about the future, we may be unethically allowing the maximum number of American children to lose their lives while attending school during the coming months and years. Our young people have long been this country’s top priority – and they now need strong leaders on both sides of the gun control issue to protect them.
Words by: Elizabeth Smith
Elizabeth Smith is a freelance writer and graduate of both Fuller Theological Seminary and the University of Texas Law School.