School Shootings

It’s hard to let the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday pass without a comment. I know there are no words that can take away the awful pain of loss so many are experiencing, so all I can offer is my support and prayers that the families and friends of those who lost their lives will have the strength to weather the storms of grief.

Let the Memories Burn Bright

I thought President Obama did a fine job in his speech last night at the memorial, and I am glad that he let the people know that the nation is mourning with them. I did cringe just a little bit, however, when he said that we as a government will do all we can to ensure that this does not happen again.

Those are nice words, but hardly ones we can live up to. The government has no control over whatever it is that motivates someone to pick up a gun and go on a shooting spree.

It is true that we need better care for those with mental health issues. Most of the time we find out, after the fact, that a person who commits such atrocities does suffer from mental and/or emotional health problems. But that certainly does not mean that every person who has a cognitive disease is prone to this kind of violence.

Then there’s the issue of gun control. Already there are groups of people calling for stricter gun laws, and with enough emotion pushing that cause, the right to own a gun might be seriously curtailed. Will that help? Probably not. If someone is intent on using a gun to kill people, he or she will be able to get a gun, whether legal or not, and if a gun is not available, other weapons will be used. There have been attacks on elementary school children in China by men wielding swords and large knives. The most recent on the same day as the Sandy Hook school shooting.

When I did the research for my book on gun violence in schools, I found that the factors that contribute to violent behaviors are many, so there isn’t going to be one simple solution to make students safe. One thing that we can do as a society, however, is to take a stand against media and entertainment that glorifies violence and makes it appear harmless.

It is anything but harmless. A professor of criminology that I interviewed for my book twenty years ago said, “How many times can we watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre without it giving us a subconscious message that killing and maiming people is okay?”

He also said that once we as a society had no lines that we would not cross, we would be a society out of control.

Think about it. Where are the boundaries today?

On Another Note: I want to remind you to come back on Wednesday to welcome Nell Carson. Do you know how hard it is to get a building designated as historically significant? She will share what she learned in her research for her book, The Gingerbread House

And Yet One More Note: Today is the last day to get your Holiday gift, The Last Dollar,  which celebrates the magic of giving. Thanks to all who have already downloaded the book, it is now #24 on the short story best-seller list.

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