December 15 – What is wrong with us?

I can’t explain exactly why, but one of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing is picking up first my children and now my grandchildren from school. Maybe its because I still remember how good I myself felt on those very few afternoons when I was between five and seven years-old and I’d walk out the huge glass-plated doors of Guy Park Avenue School and see my own normally-at-work Mom, standing there waiting to walk or drive me home. Maybe its because I didn’t get the chance and still don’t get the chance to perform this welcomed activity very often. Or maybe its because I’ve just always loved little kids.

When kids are that age and younger, not only do they need their parents most, they also enjoy being with us most. In addition to feeding and clothing and taking care of them, during that short time in their life we actually are their best friends. They truly enjoy being with you and look forward to seeing you and telling you things and asking you all the questions they really want answers to. Every parent and grandparent who’s ever picked up their little ones at school knows exactly what I mean. That sparkle in their eyes and the smile that appears on their faces when they come out that school door and see you there waiting for them is priceless. If you wonder what love looks like?  That’s it right there.

Those sparkling eyes and heartwarming smiles are what I was thinking about yesterday as I listened to and watched the news of the horrible tragedy unfolding in Connecticut. All those terrified parents, rushing to that school, not knowing what to expect, praying for the best, fearing the worst. They put their beautiful, completely innocent babies on the bus or drove them to school that morning without a second’s hesitation. A few hours later, they were immersed in agony, desperately hoping and praying that a door would open and their child would come out of it, see them and smile.

This morning, I woke up at 4AM  thinking of the 20 sets of parents who’s children did not leave that school. How do they go on? I don’t know if I myself could or would even want to try. I think of all those children who witnessed such unspeakable evil in a place they thought was perfectly safe and wonder not “if ” but instead “when” and “how” it will negatively impact their lives.

The only possible thing any of us can do to honor the lives of those beautiful sweet children and the heroes who died trying to protect them is to finally say enough is enough. Regardless of which metric is used, America leads the world by far in deaths caused by guns. Each and every day of the year, an average of 32 people in this country are killed with a bullet fired from a gun. We as a society must do much better than we’ve done so far when it comes to answering the question “How can we reduce the number of deaths in this country caused by guns?”

Based on everything being reported thus far, the evil young man who carried out yesterday’s massacre, had no criminal record or documented history of mental illness. Since his mother was once an aide or volunteer at the school, some are assuming the principal recognized his face when it was captured by the security camera positioned at the school’s locked front door and he was buzzed into the building. One of the weapons he used to commit this unconscionable slaughter, was the same type of rapid fire rifle our military troops use in Afghanistan. Reports indicate, this assault rifle belonged to his mother, who he also had killed at home, earlier yesterday morning.

So it looks like he broke not a single law until he used this weapon, which is designed for the express purpose of very quickly killing large numbers of human beings, to begin doing exactly that. There is absolutely no reason for any person on this earth other than a soldier fighting in a war (or law enforcement officials) to have access to or use the type of weapon. Did you know that before being issued a firearm of any kind, every law enforcement professional is required to take and pass psychological testing and classes on the proper use of force and weapons. Did you know that anyone in America 21 years or older without a criminal record can purchase an assault rifle with just a drivers license?

My personal opinion is that the sale or possession of this type of weapon should be banned forever in this country. If you agree, or have a better idea that will more effectively prevent what happened in Newtown yesterday morning from ever happening again, I beg you to write your congressman and senators and tell them to immediately do whatever is necessary to make this happen now.

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