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What Have We BECOME?

Reflections on the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. What should our response be to such a horrendous act?

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write today's post. My blog is dedicated to helping parents navigate their way through the difficulties of parenthood. But the events that occurred Friday in Newtown, CT, leave me searching for answers and depressed at the collective state of our American culture.

What have we become when a 20-year-old (a whisper away from a teenager) takes a gun and shoots his mother, and then proceeds to drive her car to an elementary school and take his vengeance and hatred out on poor, little defenseless children, and educators who dedicate their life to them? I can't help thinking about the preschoolers that I teach and how I would do anything to protect them. Their little faces. Their little bright eyes and inquiring minds. How did this young man go from that innocence to a monster in the short years in between?

Our culture needs examination. We are headed in the wrong direction. When this happens and is cataloged against the backdrop of other recent events it has become startlingly clear. Shootings in movie theaters, shopping malls, houses of worship and now elementary schools! What have we become? We are all responsible at some level for this. And I am outraged about it. So what are the causes? Here are my theories:

Violence has been spoon-fed to our children through video games, movies, television show and the internet has dulled our senses and lulled us into becoming more accepting of the unacceptable. It cannot be healthy for young children, and then preteens, and then teenagers to play violent video games for hours on end and watch entertainment that continually glorifies violence.

Families are fracturing: Two-parent families are becoming less and less common. And although there are many excellent parents who bring up successful children in single parent homes, the fact of the matter is that it is EXTREMELY hard to be a single parent. And often times when both parents are still in the picture, there is still a great deal of unresolved anger and rage on the part of the children--who are always the casualties of divorce.

Lack of Spiritual Direction: Our society glorifies superficial successes and worldly possessions over character. What do we desire in the U.S.? We want a big house, expensive car, designer clothes and shoes. Where does a healthy, happy, well-adjusted family rank on our list of wants? I am not sure. We hire nannies to raise our children, or just leave them to fend for themselves. And then wonder why they didn't turn out the way we wanted them to. We rank a spiritual life as something to discover during trying times, but do we take our children to religious education classes? Do we impart on them the importance of being a good, kind, loving person? No, we are too busy. But we allow Hollywood and gaming companies to shape their young minds with absolute dreck?

Think of what is glorified in our society? "Jersey Shore?" The "Real" housewives of multiple locations? Pro athletes? Rap and pop artists? Where are the positive messages coming from any of those sources?

Lack of mental health services are another concern: Where do families turn when they know their loved one is capable of committing a crime but have no clue about what to do to stop it. We need facilities and legislation that will give us a safety net for deeply troubled individuals.

And finally, the guns: Our society must get a handle on guns. If you don't believe me, look at the death by gun rates of other developed nations. You cannot convince me that the Constitution was meant to guarantee our right to carry concealed, automatic weapons that were manufactured to excel at killing human beings, including little children. Do you want to hunt? Fine. You may have a hunting rifle. But you should not be allowed to lawfully own rapid-fire, high-powered, automatic weapons that can efficiently kill my children. And you should not be allowed to have a bulletproof vest and body armor. Good, law-abiding citizens have no need for such items and as a society we should not tolerate their sale and possession. We must get serious about this! We need creative solutions to get the guns out of our homes and only in the hands of our law enforcement agents.

The time is now to do some serious soul-searching about the direction of our nation. Take action. Write to your representatives about gun issues. Get involved on a community level to help struggling families. Give money to mental health organizations. Turn your televisions off and throw away your inappropriate video games. We must all do something so that events like Sandy Hook will never happen again! My prayers and deepest sympathy go out to the families of that tiny little school and all of the families that have lost loved ones to senseless violence in our country.

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This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Douglas L. Frazier December 17, 2012 at 04:23 AM
This was a suicide by a mentally defective child. He killed his mother and then made sure that he would be forced to kill himself by killing those who were most vulnerable. Connecticut has very strict Gun Control laws. This child stole his dead mother's firearms which were properly registered. How is this the fault of millions of lawful gun owners? Where were the school cops? The security? The psychiatrists? You can't stop suicidal people from trying to kill themselves; but you can stop them from killing others. Those teachers should have been discretely armed. This sort of thing only happens in "gun free zones". More concealed carry equals less crime.
Steve December 17, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Let me first state, my prayers go to all those families whose loved ones were killed or injured in this tragedy. Now to the point. Guns don't kill people, PEOPLE kill people! These young adults STOLE those guns, they were not gun owners. If me or my family were in danger of losing our lives, I would use a gun to STOP that person. If some one is going to kill anyone they are mentally ill and unless you are going to "stereotype" everyone, you can't say who is going to do what to kill. How many mothers have killed their own children? Did they use a GUN? No, they drown them or drug them. What is your plan for that. I have the right to defend myself and my family on my property against any one threatening our lives or property. If they have a gun, do you what me to talk to them or use my hands against other weapons? Is that how the police do it or the military. Don't blame guns, that is just one possible way to kill. Far more people are killed each day driving a car, are you going to ban them? After all, someone was in the wrong in any accident. if you make everyone walk, no more deaths by cars, Right? Illinois is the only state you can carry a gun and all the criminals in Illinois know it, that is way crime is the highest in the nation here. That's a fact! Let's concentrate on video games or TV violence.
Steve December 17, 2012 at 04:41 AM
correction on previous post: Illinois is the only state you CAN NOT carry. So why so many shootings in Chicago if we have a ban??? That sure helped didn't it? I agree with Doug: all the data shows "More concealed carry equals less crime". Criminals would think twice. Mental nut jobs don't think at all. I agree with some of the topics in this article, but not the gun issue for those of us that are law abiding citizens and have a right to own guns, both for hunting and self defense. Just think, if you and your children are in a store and it is being robbed, and they start to shoot people, I would hope luck would place a cop there to stop him. If not, you need to be in a state where concealed carry would allow some one to stop him for you, otherwise you are just a sitting duck. GOD Bless everyone.
Doris Myer December 17, 2012 at 10:51 AM
On the same day that 20 children died in America 20+ children were attacked in China at a school. All of the Chinese children survived the attacks because the attacker didn't have a gun but a knife. If Adam Lanza had had a knife instead of semi-automatic weapons maybe the Sandy Creek children would have survived. I do not believe in a ban on all guns but no one needs semi or automatic weapons just like you don't need shoulder held missile launchers. Rifles and shotguns are appropriate for personal ownership for hunting, skeet shooting and on farms/ranches for protection from encroaching wild animals. Remember each child was shot a minimum of 3 times and some had their little bodies riddled with as many as 11 shots. Picture that as their parents had to when you defend the right of someone to own a semi-automatic/automatic assault weapon.
Linda Twomey December 17, 2012 at 04:03 PM
I too agree with some of the points, but not all. America is about 80 million guns too late to logically believe that legislation of any sort will actually control guns from criminals or the criminally or otherwise insane. Taking guns out of the hands of good law abiding citizens obviously won't help, and only gives criminals who have already demonstrated they don' t follow laws an unfair advantage when trying to defend oneself. Speaking to the point of lack of spiritual direction, I agree, but would take it further. It has been a long time since we were truly one nation under God. A nation that forgets God is headed in the wrong direction. Our gods ( little "g") are self, our rights, money, power, sex, etc., basically the "more monster". We continue down the same path doing the same things over and over expecting different results....by very definition insanity. A nation that truly teaches, follows and respects God and His laws is headed back onto the right path. As a nation, we have lost the war on guns, the war on drugs, etc., and control laws haven't helped. It starts with what a nation values, and we demonstrate that by how we live. What does America value? It appears we value self and "more" for ourselves more than others and above God. Just ask someone trampled in line on Black Friday trying to get a cheap 50 inch flatscreen TV. What a way to remember who we should be giving thanks to in all things
CM December 17, 2012 at 04:11 PM
God bless those little angels who died but, can people stop blaming this behavior on that he was a product of divorce?!! He was 18 when his parents divorced. I highly doubt he had that much anger over that. I'm disappointed that you would even bring that up.
Nancy Feingold Krames December 17, 2012 at 04:15 PM
The answer is NOT arming the teachers. GEESH! I'm so tired of hearing that ridiculous argument! We can't afford to buy supplies for our schools and yet we can afford to train a school militia???? And, as of this point, we don't know ANYTHING about the mental state of the shooter. Don't make assumptions.
Edward Andrysiak December 17, 2012 at 05:16 PM
This shooter was mentally ill. Most all of the mass shooters ARE mentally ill! So, why don't we take all of them off the street? Simply, we can't. For a lot of reasons. There are 300 million firearms on the street and we will NEVER be able to get rid of all of them either nor do I think we should. We have, in this dangerous world, only one real option and that is to protect ourselves and loved ones as best we can. It won't work all the time...best effort is all we can hope for. As a remedy we need to better prepare for these kinds of encounters with the deranged amongst us. More guns, tasers, mace etc and, this is the important part, more awareness and situational training. Armed CCW folks should be able to train in real time senerios so they are prepared. If the ladies at the school had some real time training right there in their school and defence items...firearm, mace, strun gun or even hornet spray and a PLAN...the killings might have been less. Each community should train it's CCW people in mall, school, store, Starbucks and McDonalds senerios. The rule for survival is training and understanding as well as "expecting the un-expected". I get criticized for this suggestion but I can't come up with anything else that might work. Remember, the nuts are here to stay and the guns are too!
Matt December 17, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I've seen a lot of opinion pieces and comments regarding how laws should be modified in response to this tragedy, but I haven't seen anyone suggest the following: Why not make co-inhabitants and immediate family members go through the same background checks that the owner goes through? It seems obvious that they will have access to the guns. Also, why not require owner-financed psych evaluations for permits (including for, again, other members of the household)? You could exempt children under ~12. Also, shouldn't these permits be renewed each year, with a new evaluation for everyone? I'm assuming that if the shooter had gone in for a psych eval within the last year, he would have been found unfit to have access to guns. The dilemma is how to get him into the psych eval during the time he is contemplating violence. All these evaluations would be expensive, so they should be owner-financed.
Joe O'Donnell (Editor) December 17, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Thanks for voicing your opinion, Edward. I'm curious what you think about a potential assault weapons ban? That seems to be where Congress might be headed.
Andrew December 17, 2012 at 06:55 PM
The US is the most heavily armed civilian society in the world, if more guns = less crime, we should have the least amount of these types of mass shootings in the world, instead we have the most.
Char Larson December 17, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Excellent article, Dawn. I echo your sentiments. As a teacher I am completely opposed to arming teachers or other school employees. This is not the Wild West. There are young children in my primary classroom who go home each day and play video games with MATURE ratings - halo, mortal combat, etc. Parents need to parent!
Paul Wiseheart December 18, 2012 at 04:16 AM
yes, you have a right to have a gun, but automatic high-powered multit-rounds weapons capable of shooting 18 rounds in 10 seconds, come on get real
Jo Jo dancer December 18, 2012 at 10:07 PM
.O.K. Actually this is quite typically, an emotional response. You chance of you being killed with a firearm with .003% per year 100,000 per capita. That’s being nice. 82% of gun violence victims have one thing in common at least one felony conviction. Us living in the burbs and not gang banging or dealing crack it's less. It’s an emotional response due the action of one person that has worms for brains. Car accidents and bath tubs are still bigger killers than Glocks. Violent crime has been going down and down. How can you say there is a direct correlation between guns and violence? It should be through the roof now with CCW. However it been trending down with more people and guns. Property crimes have been increasing while violence is less. CDC has these stats free and easy.
Jo Jo dancer December 18, 2012 at 10:07 PM
The freedom of our nation is greater than my life. I'm not afraid of individual people with guns I'm afraid of our government. 2nd article is the ultimate check and balance against the government. So yes we need the same hardware to defend against it. With Patriot Act 1 and Patriot Act 2 and National Defense Act 2012 we need these weapons more than ever. We live in a free society and currently the government has to respect our wishes due to firearms. It’s what our forefathers had in mind. The 2nd amendment has nothing to do with hunting or even self-dense against private citizens.
Jo Jo dancer December 18, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Gun Control throughout history ALWAYS ALWAYS ends poorly. Hitler’s first act is registration than confiscation of firearms post "Crystal Nacth". The Turk and the Armenian genocide. I can go on and on. When time bleeds off the millions of murdered via governments and total is less than our murder rate….call me. Gun Control has failed throughout history and the history in our country. The school shooting is horrible and makes me sick to my stomach. However one person is responsible, I’m not. I did nothing any children. I’ve served my country, I’ve never committed a crime, I pay my taxes. Why should we all suffer because of one psycho. “For the greater good of society?” That sounds familiar.
Jo Jo dancer December 18, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Violence is trending down. Check the CDC website. With more guns and more people.
Jo Jo dancer December 18, 2012 at 10:10 PM
The 2nd article had nothing to do with hunting. Everything to do with overthrowing a evil government. AR-15/ AK weapons is kind a base to do that with.
Jo Jo dancer December 18, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Dawn Lantero--- Spitual direction? Video games? It hurt me to agree with mental health services and families fractures. However if this murder came from the freaking Brady Bunch it wouldn't of mattered. Video games... as a parent you have that right. Spitual Direction.... Allah anyone?

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