Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 4:21:21 AM
When the CNN Breaking News notification popped up on my phone, I barely glanced at it. Another shooting? Terrible, but sadly, becoming the norm. I closed my eyes, thanked the gods that my daughter was 15-months-old and asleep in her crib, and continued my morning routine.
After lunch, I turned on the national news, and the full force of the tragedy hit me. Those parents waiting for agonizing hours to find out if their world was going to be turned upside down. The children being herded by scared but determined faculty members to safety.
I sat, horrified at the images on my screen. I couldn't tear myself away, day after day. I cried numerous times a day for a week. I kept picturing their sweet faces, and the Christmas presents they would never open. The high school graduations they would never attend. The children they would never have.
It was a nightmare, and it wasn't even mine-- I was 2,000 miles away.
But it was my nightmare. It was a national nightmare. Those were our children; they were the future, and we had let them become victims of a broken society. A broken society hell-bent on denying any change in the status quo.
If you discussed the idea of gun control in the aftermath of the tragedy, you were heartless. If you brought it up weeks later, your claims were baseless. When is the time?
The time was December 13, 2012, the day before the Newtown, CT shootings.
The time was January 19, 2012, the day before the Aurora, CO shootings.
The time was January 7, 2011, the day before the Tuscon, AZ shootings.
The time has always been before another tragedy can occur, and yet, this issue, that should surely be at the top of every state governor's list of priorities, has somehow taken a backseat, despite the number of lives these spree shootings have claimed.
Are stricter gun laws the answer? I don't know. Will taking a hard look at the mental health issues of our citizens solve the problem? Again, who knows? But, one thing IS certain: something has to change. If nothing does, we will once again be looking at the date before another tragedy, and asking ourselves, "Why didn't we do something then?"
I look forward to the day when I can walk onto a college campus without being hyper vigilant about my surroundings. When I can go into a movie theater without immediately creating a mental plan of action, just in case. When a large gathering doesn't immediately send me into a panic.
When will that be?