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ISSUE: Connecticut school shootings
OUR VIEW: A call for calm conversation
With a horrified nation, our hearts are broken and tears have been shed for the 20 children and six teachers and administrators slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
In the days since the sickening Dec. 14 shootings, the outcry continues for a national conversation on what must be done to curb such mass killings.
While important questions have been raised on topics such as mental illness and the possible influence of video gaming, television and movies could have on acts of uncontrolled aggression, demands for increased gun control quickly captured center stage.
It’s an understandable response to an irrational act of violence no one can understand. In the wake of such mind-numbing brutality, it is difficult for effective conversation to take place.
If there is to be true conversation on what could be done to lessen the likelihood of another mass homicide that snatched away the lives of these little boys and girls, voices from all sides must be heard. And to be heard and truly considered, these voices must be calm, rational and open-minded.
Facts must be presented to temper an otherwise emotionally driven, knee-jerk response. Great care must be taken to soberly discuss and consider what might lead individuals to carry-out such carnage targeting innocent victims. Equal care must be given to avoid villainizing millions of equally innocent law-abiding citizens in the process.
The Second Amendment will be scrutinized once again in the aftermath of these killings. A renewed vetting of the words “a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” will no doubt occur. The argument on whether gun ownership and the right to bear them is an inalienable birthright owned by Americans, or a privilege granted by the government most likely will rage in shouts and finger-pointing between anti- and pro-gun extremists.
Gun owners will be pressed and will push back against giving up some of these rights in an effort to save “even one life” as President Barack Obama has described.
But these shouts for new and more restrictive gun-control legislation cannot overshadow the clear need for improvement in how our country deals with mental illness. It cannot overshadow the importance of better enforcing gun laws already present and more strongly prosecuting those who break them. It shouldn’t displace dialogue about what should or could be done to help those who are known to be on the fringes of societal norms before they lash out, rather than simply saying we’re not surprised after they do.
Can such conversation occur? We’re hopeful but equally doubtful it can or will.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise's editorial board.