We’re just starting to piece together the facts about this tragedy.
I think it will be awhile before we, as a collective whole, emerge from the emotional shock that has left most of us simultaneously numb and reeling.
One thing I can say for certain, though, is this:
Now is not the time to let this go.
Many have suggested that there needs to be a “cooling off” period.
That it’s somehow disrespectful to engage in a national discourse about some of the root issues behind this atrocity while people are grieving.
I used to agree.
I used to think that those of us not immediately impacted by tragic events needed to stand back; to abandon conversations about the larger issues in order to reflect on the lives lost in a reverent silence.
Now, I think otherwise.
Now, I believe that in order to demonstrate respect and consideration for the lives lost to unfathomable violence, we must carry on these conversations. We cannot wait.
We waited after Columbine…and three months later, there was another shooting. 12 people were killed in Atlanta. We waited again, and another two months later, seven people were killed in Ft. Worth.
In the past two years alone, there have been 11 mass shootings. Let that sink in for a minute.
- January 8, 2011: 6 killed, 19 total shot in Tucson, AZ
- September 6, 2011: 5 killed, 12 total shot in Carson City, NV
- April 2, 2012: 7 killed in Oakland, CA
- April 6, 2012: 3 killed, 5 total shot in Tulsa, OK
- May 29, 2012: 5 killed in Seattle, WA
- July 20, 2012: 12 killed, 58 wounded in Aurora, CO
- August 5, 2012: 6 killed, 4 others wounded in Oak Creek, WI
- September 27, 2012: 5 shot, 3 others wounded in Minneapolis, MN
- December 11, 2012: 2 killed in Clackamas Town Center, OR
- December 14,2012: at least 27 killed in Newtown, CT
Looking at this list, it’s apparent (to me, at least) that we don’t have TIME to wait. Not if we want to avoid further tragedy. Not if we want to protect human lives
I’m not just talking about gun control, either. We need to look at the big picture, and figure out WHY people are killing in the first place, not just HOW they’re doing it.
Gun regulation/control reform may be one element, but honestly, it’s like trying to dam up a raging river with a box of toothpicks. (I was going to use the bandaid metaphor, but I can’t even bring myself to use that sort of imagery right now.) We need to be looking at comprehensive healthcare reform as well, allowing for increased access to mental health services. We need to implement some sort of support for the people who need it. Our entire society could probably use some sort of overhaul, because we’re obviously missing some important warning signs.
This isn’t about political posturing. This isn’t about furthering personal interests. This is about preserving human life and well-being. Without that, what the hell does anything else even matter?