Shots ring out and the children fall. Little hands that, moments before held crayons, toys or a friend’s hand, are now still. Smooth cheeks that felt a parent’s caress, that framed magical smiles and serious frowns, are pale and lifeless. Eyes, that were bright with excitement, wonder or tears, are now closed in their final terror or wide in uncomprehending surprise, the light gone. All the tomorrows that will never be, the joys, hopes and love of families, shattered as the children fell.
This is a terrifying history, sixty-two mass killings over the last thirty years.
Every such slaughter is an indictment of our culture, a culture that manufactures madness, breaks people and celebrates violence, weapons and war. Inside every gunman is a child who fell or was thrown down, a child whose cries went unheard. In their rage, they lash out, not content to die alone.
And the guns! Ever more efficient ways to kill at prices anyone can afford, easy to buy. We’re the largest manufacturer and exporter of weapons in the world. A Chinese man stabbed twenty-three people recently but no one died. It’s very hard to kill without guns.
Powerful lobbies and some politicians resist gun control. Some legislators may be cowed by hostile constituents or in the corporate pocket, unwilling to support such legislation. President Obama has also been silent on this issue.
So we hear condolences, platitudes and vague promises of “making sure it never happens again”. But rhetoric and spin count for nothing in the presence of Death and the grief of families.
We need gun control laws that make it impossible for dangerous people to buy guns. And certain guns should be prohibited.
Mental health services should be accessible to everyone. Denying people such services invites disaster.
We need healthy role models for boys and men, not Rambo.
If we do what we’ve done, we’ll get what we’ve got. And on another day, in another place, more children will fall.