Like much of you, I watched in absolute terror Friday as events unfolded at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn..
At the time I hadn’t yet written this column. My goal has been to keep this area of the newspaper light-hearted but that seems both inappropriate and impossible considering the circumstances.
As I watch the news and see the faces of the sweet children who are no longer with us, no longer able to open presents from Santa or dream of being a major league ball player or whatever aspirations may have filled their young hearts and minds, I see the same kids who sleep under my roof at night.
It could have been them. It could have been yours. And when I see the video of parents fighting back tears to tell the stories of their dead children, my heart breaks into pieces for them.
At the risk of losing an ounce of toughness I admit, my eyes filled with tears more than once over the past weekend. I wasn’t alone, I’m sure. I watched the president fight back tears. Anderson Cooper, my news source of choice, started to crack Sunday when reading information about each individual child.
What happened is not fair to those kids. It isn’t fair to their parents. It isn’t fair to the teachers, family, friends and surviving students. I’ve been told since I was about the age of the victims that life isn’t fair. But it shouldn’t come to this.
The survivors have seen things at age six that I haven’t seen at age 26 and hope that I will never see. Their lives will never be the same. The innocence of those children has been ripped from their playful hearts. They will live forever knowing they saw their friends strewn out across a school with blood surrounding them. Some saw their teacher shot to death trying to protect them. They will be grateful, but horrified forever.
What is the answer to reduce the risk of a mass shooting inside a school?
Total Voters: 62
Just like the Times editorial states on this page, we have to change. We have to change our way of thinking. Mental illness needs to be taken seriously and security measures at schools must be looked at. What’s scary is Sandy Hook Elementary was as secure as most any other elementary school can be with automatic locking doors in place and ID required to enter. That wouldn’t stop someone on a mission to kill others and ultimately die, though, would it? What would? An armed officer at every school might. Maybe mandatory mental evaluations as students enter and exit high school could pinpoint students who may not otherwise have access to help.
That could get expensive – but there is no price on 20 innocent lives.
-Josh Peterson is the editor of the Manchester Times. He has won TPA awards for his writing and photography. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29