The nation has a duty to protect its tiniest, most vulnerable citizens. Our children.
By MARY SANCHEZ
The Kansas City Star
America is failing at this task, and the proof is lying in Connecticut morgues.
Dont dare forget the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Every last one of the 20 precious souls who died Friday deserves a more pertinent and lasting memorial than the shock of a nation reeling.
They deserve deep, contemplative thought and action. They deserve changes in how we manage the right to own weaponry in America.
If the slaughter of a classroom of children isnt enough to press for reasonable gun control, then nothing will help America. We might as well hand out NRA memberships with birth certificates.
Mowing children down as if they are targets at a shooting gallery has nothing to do with a well-regulated militia.
The nation soon will be familiar with the faces and too-brief life stories of these youngsters. The sports they played. The games they enjoyed, their favorite colors and classes. Maybe coveted snacks their mothers packed for their lunches Friday.
Gone are their futures: their joy at presents and family on Christmas morning, high school and college, the effect they could have had on society as mothers and fathers and the careers of adulthood.
Some of the children who died werent old enough to read chapter books. They knew nothing of convoluted and coded arguments used by adults when defending a position on the Second Amendment, pro or con.
They have become symbolic of a national challenge. How do we balance the constitutional right to own weapons, with the need to protect the public from the dangers those same weapons possess?
What we dont need in the coming days are nonsensical correlations about guns and crime rates that simply dont correlate. Nor do we need to go down the usual political rabbit holes of inaction.
As a nation, we can do better.
Locked school doors didnt save these children. Nor, it may turn out, did background checks for gun ownership.
It should not be surprising if this mass shooting proves to fit so many other cases that the guns were obtained legally. Thats a clue that current rules for legally obtaining guns sometimes fail to keep them from violent, troubled people.
Yet too often the legally obtained factoid becomes an exit ramp from further scrutiny, a way to collectively shrug and move on.
Until the next mass shooting occurs.
As a nation, we tend to accept the violence of mass shootings. We do.
Even as flags were being lowered on Friday afternoon, before the school pictures of the murdered children began flashing, some people no doubt had begun the routine of forgetting.
Tally 28 dead and mentally file it under tragic.
Von Maur. Aurora. Columbine. Virginia Tech.
Yes, this is likely a mentally disturbed person, another familys dysfunction gone haywire in a public space.
But it is also about the murders of innocent children.
Sear this into your memory: Sandy Hook Elementary School. Never just Sandy Hook, as if it could be a popular vacation site.
We need to repeat the whole name, emphasis on elementary and school.
That will help keep the focus where it belongs, on the 20 children who are dead.
Thoughts of these lost lives can and must lead us to a better place.
To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.