We are in the midst of the holiday season and a wonderful time for many due to varying reasons including those of us who believe in the holy birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. However, for some, this joyous time of the year is a reminder of tragedy and loss. On December 14, 9 years ago, one of the most tragic school shootings in our history took place at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut. The heartbreaking shooting forever changed how our most vulnerable move about in school. Now along with daily lessons comes unscheduled and scheduled drills and events that trigger official lockdowns. One would have expected the Sandy Hook school tragedy to change the trajectory of how we navigate the second amendment right to bear arms and the safety of our most vulnerable population. Almost a decade later, the divide still exists and almost nothing has been done to keep our children safe. Many of us vowed that we would stand up and advocate so that this would not happen again. Almost a decade later, there have been countless more tragedies of mass shootings leaving families and communities devastated and suffering from the mental trauma. There has not been any substantial change to keep these senseless tragedies from occurring.
There have been countless tragedies of mass shootings since Sandy Hook with many of those taking place in schools. The only difference has been that the shooter in recent cases has been caught and held accountable. All too often the accessibility of assault weapons in the hands of minors comes too easily. Instead of making it more difficult, it has instead become a fierce debate over the rights to gun ownership. Most recently, a child shot up a school and his parents were also charged due to their negligence in ignoring their child’s spiraling violent behavior and for purchasing the weapon used to kill several of his school mates. It is hard to fathom that we value property over life, let alone the life of a minor. The majority of the Sandy Hook victims were just six and seven years old. They did not deserve to be massacred and they do not deserve to have their legacy be diminished due to gun ownership being more important of an issue. Instead of outrage and a demand for better, society has become desensitized against tragedies such as this. Often we promise to do better, yet history keeps repeating itself.
The truth is our children whether on a college campus, high school, or elementary school should not think that practiced lockdowns are ok and normal. Practicing for a mass shooting event is not normal and no child should have to do so. Having to attend school while preparing for an inevitable school massacre is totally unacceptable. Similarly, a child walking to school, sitting in their bedroom, sitting in the backseat of a car, or simply hanging out on a playground also deserve to be safe and free of illegal gunfire. We have an inherent problem of an influx of both legal and illegal firearms ending up in the wrong hands. We have become a society that values our guns over lives. How do we solve this epidemic? We solve it similar to how we do any other issue, with unity and common ground. We solve it with common sense, rules, and sustainable consequences that hold those who do not follow the laws accountable in a court of law. Possessing firearms is a large responsibility and if one wants that responsibility there has to be real liability. We owe this to the countless families that have been and continue to be impacted by senseless gun violence. There have been too many innocent victims who look to us as their caregivers. Society owes them more than just being another statistic. No child deserves to be murdered in cold blood as the Sandy Hook victims were. Although they are no longer with us, we owe it to their legacy and their families to continue to fight for better and to stop this continuing vicious cycle so that more families do not have to suffer. As we celebrate the holidays and give thanks for seeing another year, let's not forget the 26 victims of Sandy Hook elementary school and their families and remember to keep them in our thoughts.