I don’t expect to rise above all the chatter about the tragedy in Connecticut. I hesitate to add to it, because something about Facebook and blogs and Twitter takes away from the realness, the seriousness, the timelessness of a tragedy like this, of the loss of twenty babies I don’t know and haven’t seen but want to wrap my arms around even all these miles away. The president was right: these are our children.
And a large part of me, unlike in any other tragedy in recent memory save 9/11, feels the need to speak my piece in honor of these babies and the teachers who died trying to save them. Because otherwise, there’s silence over here. And there’s no truer story than what happened on Friday. And there’s no greater cause than children.
There’s a lot of information, misinformation, and statistics being thrown around, and who knows what the end story will be. But we know that twenty babies woke up on Friday morning, like your children did today. Twenty children got dressed for school, maybe thinking about their Christmas lists, and many parents already have those presents waiting, hidden high on a closet shelf.
You can, and should, blame the lack of mental health care in this country. You can, and should, blame the lack of gun safety among some gun owners. You can, and should, blame the absence of laws that require gun registration or laws that prohibit certain types of guns (such as those that have the word “assault” in their name). We are the most violent industrialized country in the world. The most violent. We failed those children in Connecticut.
The following excerpt from an interview Friday on CNN with former Assistant FBI Director Tom Fuentes struck me, and I’d like you to read it. Afterward, you can decide what to do:
BLITZER: You’ve been involved in law enforcement your whole life. Is there anything we can learn from this and move forward to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
BLITZER (pausing, seemingly taken aback by the blunt answer): It’s going to happen again?
FUENTES: It’s going to happen again. We don’t change anything of the basics. We don’t — we haven’t made the improvements to our mental health system to take care of people that are severely disturbed. We haven’t done anything to prevent the severely disturbed from obtaining the weapons that are so prevalent in our society. So as long as you have disturbed people able to obtain weapons and act out with those weapons —
BLITZER: Because a lot of folks, immediately as soon as they hear this, they’ll say, you know, that guns are too — assault weapons, guns, are too available, too easy to get.
FUENTES: Well, what they say — what we say now is we can’t talk about it. Everybody is in mourning. It’s too soon, it’s not appropriate. So at the time, later, when it is appropriate, we don’t care. And nothing changes.
I had a daughter at Virginia Tech down the hall from the first shooting, the first two people that were killed in that dorm, 10 rooms away. So that hit home for me very closely. What’s changed since then? Not one thing in the state of Virginia has changed. I don’t expect much will change here.