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No More

I don't want to send condolence notes. I don't want to cut out snowflakes. What I want is for the laws to change.

Every day, I feel a little more sick to my stomach about what happened in Connecticut. I imagine those Sandy Hook parents, opening their front doors this week to find a package of Legos or a pair of pajamas, intended as Christmas presents for children who are now gone forever. I think of the teachers and administrators who lost their lives trying to protect those kids--and I wonder, just when did being willing to take a bullet become part of the job description for a public elementary school teacher today? I am grateful for those teachers who herded their students into closets and bathrooms and somehow distracted and comforted them while something so awful was happening in their school. And yes, I think of those first graders.

Those 20 kids should be making their own snowflakes. They should be baking holiday cookies with their grandmothers. They should be informing their classmates that they celebrate Hanukkah and get presents for eight nights straight. They should be putting their lumpy, tacky, and totally precious handmade preschool ornaments on their family's Christmas tree. They should be eagerly awaiting the first snow, begging for another story at bedtime, and refusing to eat their vegetables at dinner.

But they are not.

Instead, we are learning about their favorite colors, their favorite sports, and their favorite foods. (First graders are big on favorites.) We are seeing photographs of them, with their adorably mussed hair and gap-toothed smiles that surely melted their grandparents' hearts. We are reading their obituaries.

This is so terribly, terribly wrong.

I don't know how to fix this, but we cannot let this keep happening. The framework we have in place for dealing with all the individual issues--guns, violence, mental illness, and more--involved in the Sandy Hook shooting has been proven tragically inadequate.  Maybe we need metal detectors at the entrances of all schools. Maybe we need an armed security officer in every school, not just high schools. Maybe we need better--and more affordable--mental health treatment for people. Maybe we need to get better at identifying those who are emotionally unstable. Maybe we need more restrictions on violence on TV or movies. And yes, maybe, just maybe, we need to deal with assault weapons.

Because we cannot continue to believe that there is nothing we can do to prevent a mentally disturbed person from causing this type of damage to a community, to our country, and to children who had absolutely no chance once he started shooting.

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