‘We must not retreat this time’

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in the bucolic town of Newtown, Conn., has shaken the nation and brought Americans to search for logic in the inexplicable, for a solution that will allow us to say: Never again.

And yet we’ve been here before. At the 1999 massacre at Columbine, when 12 students and one teacher were killed and 24 injured. In 2007 at Virginia Tech, when 32 were shot dead. In 2008 at Northern Illinois University, when six were killed. In 2009 at a Binghamton, N.Y., immigration center, where 13 died. In 2011 outside a Tucson supermarket where a gunman killed six and wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. In July, at a massacre in a theater in Colorado, that left 12 dead and 58 wounded.

And so we are now at Sandy Hook, a tipping point for a nation under siege. Six educators and 20 children, ages 6 and 7, were killed by one gunman with an arsenal so large hundreds of rounds that authorities say the killer, Adam Lanza, 20, could have shot at every child, teacher and staff at the school had he not taken his own life when he heard police closing in.

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The reasons Lanza went on a shooting spree on Friday after killing his mother in her bed and taking several of her guns, including what’s believed to be a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, a civilian version of the military M-16 remain unclear. But it’s clear that our nation cannot continue to ignore a culture of violence that permeates our social order. …

President Barack Obama has called for “meaningful action” to stop future tragedies. Several members of Congress are calling for restoring the 1994 assault weapons ban. These are all good ideas, but there’s no quick fix.

There are almost as many weapons in the United States as there are people. …

Truth is, gun control laws can only go so far. We should look at everything from Hollywood’s penchant for ever-more-violent movies to video games. We should focus on mental health budgets that never seem to make the priority list from Washington to Miami. We have to look at how we interact in our families and the society at large. For the sake of our children, we must not retreat this time.

The Miami Herald