This past weekend was the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Although the town requested privacy and did not host a formal memorial of any kind to mark the date, it was hard not to think of the 20 children and six educators lost that day due to senseless gun violence.
If the few media reports providing updates on some of the families were not enough of a reminder, the day before the anniversary, reports came in of a shooting at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., an event that left two students wounded and the student shooter dead.
While it is believed that the 18-year-old shooter at Arapahoe High was attempting to target a specific teacher and the reasoning behind the events at Sandy Hook are still unknown, both serve as a reminder of how frequent unnecessary gun violence occurs in this country.
Just one day after the shooting at Sandy Hook, President Barack Obama made a speech at a vigil for the victims in Connecticut. In his speech, President Obama said this: “In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens – from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators – in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”
Apparently we are, because one year later, no federal laws regarding guns have changed. Those who support stronger background checks, a federal assault weapons ban and other legislation aimed at preventing mass shooting incidents have been unable to convince those on the other side that it is time to change. No one has been able to come to a compromise and the power of those who support the gun industry is on full display.
On the state level, things have changed. Although Rhode Island was not able to pass stricter gun laws like Connecticut, the General Assembly made changes to school safety, increased penalties for committing crimes with stolen weapons and created a task force to explore the mental health issue … but is it enough?
How many more mass shootings do there need to be? How many more times will our country have to come together to mourn the loss of so many innocent lives?
Every time a mass shooting occurs, the cries for stronger gun laws can be heard throughout the country, but then nothing changes. There has been enough talking; it is time for action.
The 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook, and the countless others before them and since them, deserve that much.