I remember where I was when I initially learned of the Sandy Hook shooting. I was standing in front of a MAC machine when a gentleman walked into the enclosed area to stand behind me as I completed my transaction. I asked him how he was. He said that he was fine until about fifteen minutes ago when he had learned of the Sandy Hook killings. He told me that a lot of children had died at the hands of a lone gunman. I couldn’t believe it. I went back to work to finish my day and arrived home to learn additional details of the massacre from the news media. My heart broke along with the rest of the nation.
I asked myself repeatedly how someone could gun down twenty six people without thought, rhyme or reason. Why would you target little children? It was just as incomprehensible then as it is now. And the first thought that came to my mind as I turned the television off to ponder this senseless incident was that the parents of these children will never look at Christmas the same way again.
My mind kept going to the gifts that will never be opened. The empty beds where little heads once lay. I thought of the giggles and laughter that manages to warm the heart of anyone that is within listening range as well as the birthdays that will never come to fruition. I thought of the parents whose lives have been shattered. And then my mind instinctively turned towards my nephews and nieces.
I don’t have any children of my own. But just because I don’t have children doesn’t mean that I don’t understand the pain associated with losing a child. And as gun lobbyist debate that the answer to this tragedy isn’t limiting their right to bear arms, I wonder if that is true.
You see, the gun used in this shooting was legally owned, presumably by the shooters mother. This wasn’t a case of a drug related drive by shooting. This tragedy wasn’t a result of an inner city crime gone awry. This was the result of a mentally unstable person who had access to a weapon that was obtained legally.
So what do we do? Do the lobbyists work hand in hand with mental health providers to ensure the safety of our families? Do we initiate laws where it extensive background checks are done for everyone in a household where a gone is to be legally purchased? Do we impose strict stipulations to legal gun ownership to keep weapons legally purchased from falling into the wrong hands?
I don’t know. Maybe we need to do a combination of all of the above before we begin to tackle the real problem of gun violence in our society.
All I know is that today, the parents and loved ones of the lost in Sandy Hook are still grieving and Christmas will never be the same. Yet and still, perhaps in the name of those people that were lost last year today, we could do something kind for someone else. Maybe in their memory, we could do something for someone who is less fortunate than we are. I’m not talking about handing out your spare change. I’m talking about something that has meaning. Think of something that you can do that would brighten the hearts of someone who otherwise would not have experienced that unexpected special gesture that only you can provide.
Maybe if we try something good, however minute, can come from this senseless tragedy.
~ J.L. Whitehead