Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Second Assault on Newtown

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

There are days that we never forget, days when our ordinary activities are interrupted by an event of such magnitude that what we were doing becomes forever linked in our minds to colossal happening that suddenly overtakes us.  I’m certain that if my father were still living, he would be able to recall with complete clarity what he was doing on the day Japan surrendered and thus brought World War II to an end. 

For my generation, one of the most defining moments was the assassination of President Kennedy which occurred fifty years ago next month.  Another monumental event occurred in the summer of 1969 when Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon.   While my activities on most of the days of my life have slipped quietly into the murky miasma of time, the things that I was doing on those two days remain starkly embedded in my memory.

Last year, on December 14th, a tragedy occurred that was so god-awful that it seared my memory with a scar that cannot – and should not – disappear.  That was the day a mentally disturbed young man, armed with automatic weapons, forced his way into an elementary school and began firing with deliberate aim.  By the time Adam Lanza’s bloody shooting spree ended, he had killed twenty students, mostly first graders, and six adults.  He ended the ordeal by taking his own life.

My workplace was having a holiday party that day.  Just before going into the office celebration, I saw a brief mention on the Internet of a shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.   As someone who has worked in the field of education for years, I know that there are few places in any community that are more innocent and accepting than the local elementary school.  I was bordering on being emotional as I entered the holiday gathering, just knowing that children were being exposed to something that scary and awful.

By the time our little party ended, the news was being blared from every source.  A mad man had gunned down children, lots of small children, each of whom had left home just hours before with concerns no greater than getting ready for Santa’s visit.  There had been a bloodbath in a place that normally served as a sanctuary for love, laughter, and learning.

Hell had visited the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  Children had died, families had been destroyed, and innocence was gone forever.

I had a medical appointment in town that afternoon.   My tears flowed, unashamedly, all the way to the doctor’s office, and all the way home again.  It was a terribly sad day – a day I can never forget.

There were some good-intentioned efforts at gun reform following that school shooting.  Parents of the victims lobbied Congress and other government entities for laws limiting the size of ammunition clips for automatic weapons.  There was also a national push for better background screenings to slow or stop the purchase of guns by habitual criminals and the mentally ill.  America was outraged – for awhile.

It didn’t take the usual suspects long to put up a counter-offensive.  The National Rifle Association’s combative mouthpiece, Wayne LaPierre, began braying about the need for more guns in schools to protect the innocent little kids from armed intruders.   The love, laughter, and learning would flourish when more teachers were packing heat.   The windbag sheriff in the county where I live, Joe Arpaio, sent his armed and basically geriatric “posse” to patrol the parking lots of schools in unincorporated areas of Maricopa County. 

The philosophy was pure through-the-looking-glass:  more guns make us safer.

Now, as the anniversary of the Newton massacre draws near, another brutal travesty is about to be unleashed on the still grieving community.  A group of gun enthusiasts calling itself the “Second Amendment Foundation” plans to show its contempt for responsible efforts to curb gun deaths by sponsoring an event in Newtown on Saturday, December 14th, the one-year anniversary of the event that snuffed out so many young lives.   The affront to decent people everywhere will be called “Guns Save Lives Day.”  One of the staging points will be the local Starbucks.

Fred Phelps and the morons who populate his family church (sic), the Westboro Baptist Church (sic) in Topeka, set the bar for crude insensitivity with their loud screaming protests at funerals – particularly the funerals of American military service men and women.    Now the Second Amendment Foundation is planning something so offensive, vulgar, and disrespectful to a profoundly grief-stricken community, that the Phelps’ organized hate-mongering pales by comparison.

Saturday, December 14th, 2013, would be a good day for torrential rains in the northeastern United States - served up with a healthy side dose of lightening.  It would be a day we all could remember for a very long time.

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