Five Minutes. Five minutes and the lives of 26 families would forever be changed. Five minutes and the patter of 20 pairs of little feet would forever be lost. Five minutes and a nation would be engulfed by shock and sorrow, yet again. December 14, 2012 – three years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the pain seems just as fresh and cruel. Along with the millions of people, the heavens too must have been mourning yesterday as the sun hid behind a thick layer of mist and fog all day.
30 miles from Newtown CT, my day started like any other on that fateful December day. I went through my standard before-school morning routine of “hurry and brush up”, “hurry and dress up”, “hurry and eat up”. I dropped off my daughter at her daycare and returned home with my then 3 week old son. Two hours later, I got a call from her school stating that the school was under a lockdown for safety precautions and that nobody was allowed in or out until further notice.
For the next several hours, I watched the news in complete shock as every parent’s nightmare unfolded. A gunman had opened fire on 20 children and 6 brave teachers in an elementary school. The children were all 6 years old. 6 years old. An innocent age when all they know is unconditional love and nothing about violence. There are but a few times when I have felt such pain like what I experienced that day. Every ounce of me wept that day – for all those mothers who would never again hold their baby. For all those fathers who would never again kiss their child. For all those children who would never again play with their sibling.
But this is home, I kept telling myself. This is Connecticut. Things like this don’t happen in such small family oriented neighborhoods. Until it does. And then everything changes.
Let’s wake up and see the growing insanity that this really is. When do we reach that tipping point when we say enough is enough? There have been over 140 school shootings since that day in December. How many more innocent lives must we lose before we take the necessary actions against gun violence? We probably can’t eradicate the presence of concealed weapons but surely we can make it more difficult to obtain one. Surely we can tighten the laws on how and where these weapons are used. It seems like getting a gun license is easier than getting through the line in your local DMV. Sure, tightening gun laws will not stop the murders and violence. Those determined to do harm will find a way. But atleast we will not serve them an assault rifle on a silver platter.
Post Sandy Hook, several states have authorized teachers to carry weapons to school. “For safety” they say and I don’t doubt their noble intention to safeguard their class. But having a gun (or guns God forbid) in a school can only bring more harm, don’t you think? I for one would not want my children anywhere near a school which allows their teachers to carry guns. I was recently told that before my children go on a playdate to someone’s house, I should ask if the parents own guns. At the time I thought it was quite an outlandish suggestion. But maybe not. Maybe we as a country really have come to such an unfortunate situation. This doesn’t have to be the new norm.
My fingers tremble and my throat remains parched as type. Before I go and kiss my children once more tonight, I leave you with these words from one of the Sandy Hook moms whose son was among those taken away.
“Because every gun-related death is a preventable death. These are not random acts. You can’t ever say, “This will never happen to me.” It can happen to anyone, at any point, at any place. You have to care enough and be insightful enough to do something before it’s too late. “