Monday, December 17, 2012

"These Tragedies Must End"

By Dale Bowling

The President's speech last night concerning the school shootings in Newtown, CT gave voice to the
Nation's grief, its desire to comfort the victims and their loved ones and America's responsibility to
protect its most precious resource - its children.

Newtown, Connecticut is a normal American town. Nothing about it or Sandybrook Elementary would make a person think something so horrible might happen there. As the President said, this could have been any school, any town in America.

And in this normal American town, 20 children and 6 adults were murdered at a school.

As the President said last night, "These tragedies must end."

But things don't just change by themselves. "To end this, we must change."

There have been 31 school shootings since Columbine in perfectly normal schools and normal towns
all across the Nation.

And every time it happens, we express our National anguish that such Evil could exist and we pound
our chests and weep. And then we go back to our own lives and we wait for the next terrible tragedy
that we've done nothing to prevent to pop up so we can start the entire process of National Anguish
followed quickly by National Thumb Twittling over again.

The President has said it rightly, these tragedies have to end. We must do something about that.

The very first thing is to begin the conversation. But as the Daily Show pointed out a recently in a
bitterly funny talking head montage, there never seems to be a good time to talk about what we can do because it's always too soon. And as soon as it's not too soon, there's a new tragedy that makes it too soon again.

The horrifically ironic thing is that Jon Stewart was talking about the shooting in Portland, Ore and that has already fallen out of the news cycle because of the shooting at Sandybrook Elementary.

So let's throw out the "too soon" thing and start talking now. What can be done? Lots of things.

We most often hear about legislative action and that is certainly one road to explore. We could pass
new laws or enforce existing laws to make it harder for guns to fall into the wrong hands. We could
close loopholes in existing laws. We could pass harder sentences for gun crimes. Renew the assault
weapons ban.

Another thing is that we can really work to get help for those who need it. Public health officials and
educational authorities can work harder to identify people with mental disorders and get them
treatment, as the President mentioned in his speech.

There are certainly many other things we can do that will come to light if we can just have this

But let us be honest for a moment. All this costs money. Law enforcement, educational institutions and public health officials need to be given the resources to do their jobs properly and this funding can't be subject to taxpayer kvetching or political blackmail a year or two down the road.

President Obama said, "this job of keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something
we can only do together." 

We all have to sacrifice for America's children. And again, the President said it best, "if we don't get
that right, we don't get anything right. "

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