Tag Archives: massacre

We Can't Tolerate this Anymore

17 Dec

The President with family and friends of victim Emilie Parker, 6

From the President’s speech in Newtown, CT Sunday night: 

This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.

And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.

Since I’ve been President, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by a mass shooting. The fourth time we’ve hugged survivors. The fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims. And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America — victims whose — much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try. 

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?

All the world’s religions — so many of them represented here today — start with a simple question: Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose? We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain; that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame, or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that no matter how good our intentions, we will all stumble sometimes, in some way. We will make mistakes, we will experience hardships. And even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans. 

There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have — for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace — that is true. The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves, and binds us to something larger — we know that’s what matters. We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that. 

That’s what we can be sure of. And that’s what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us. That’s how you’ve inspired us. You remind us what matters. And that’s what should drive us forward in everything we do, for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.

“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them — for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison. 

God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory.

May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort. And may He bless and watch over this community, and the United States of America.

  • Charlotte Bacon, 6: After much begging, Charlotte’s mom let her wear a new pink dress and boots to school. It was the last outfit the redheaded girl would ever pick out. “She was going to go some places in this world,” says her uncle.
  • Olivia Engel, 6: Olivia was looking forward to coming home Friday, to make a gingerbread house. “She loved attention,” says a family friend. “She had perfect manners. She was the teacher’s pet, the line leader. Her only crime is being a wiggly, smiley 6-year-old.”
  • Dawn Hochsprung, 47: “I don’t think you could find a more positive place to bring students to every day,” the principal said in 2010. As the AP writes, “When the unthinkable came, she was ready to defend.” She died lunging at Lanza.
  • Madeleine Hsu, 6. A doctor at Madeleine’s house said her family had no comment, adding, “This is the darkest thing I’ve ever walked into.”
  • Catherine Hubbard, 6. “We are greatly saddened by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Catherine Violet,” said her parents in a statement that thanked emergency responders.
  • Chase Kowalski, 7. Chase was outside all the time, and had recently won a mini-triathlon, says a neighbor. “You couldn’t think of a better child.”
  • Jesse Lewis, 6. “He was always friendly; he always liked to talk,” says the owner of the deli where Jesse ate his favorite sausage, egg, and cheese with hot chocolate on Friday morning.
  • Ana Marquez-Greene, 6. Video of Ana singing “Come, Thou Almighty King” is going viral. It’s in the gallery orhere. “As much as she’s needed here and missed by her mother, brother and me, Ana beat us all to paradise,” wrote dad Jimmy Greene on Facebook.
  • James Mattioli, 6. “It’s a terrible tragedy, and we’re a tight community,” says the mayor of the upstate New York town where James’ mom grew up. “Everybody will be there for them, and our thoughts and prayers are there for them.”
  • Anne Marie Murphy, 52. “You don’t expect your daughter to be murdered,” her father said, after he and her mother waited in vain for hours for news of their daughter. Murphy, a teacher described as a “happy soul,” died shielding her students. “It happens on TV. It happens elsewhere.”
  • Noah Pozner, 6. Noah’s parents moved him and sisters from New York “for safety and education,” an uncle says. He called Noah, the youngest victim, “extremely mature. When I was his age, I was not like him.” He will be buried today.
  • Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, 30. “Lauren wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten,” said her mom in a statement. After years of substitute teaching, she finally got that call this year. “It was the best year of her life.”
  • Mary Sherlach, 56. Sherlach died rushing Lanza with principal Dawn Hochsprung. “Mary felt like she was doing God’s work,” said her son-in-law, “working with the children.”
  • Victoria Soto, 27. “She beams in snapshots,” notes the AP, and she was killed after making sure her first-graders were safe. “She put those children first. That’s all she ever talked about,” says a friend. “You have a teacher who cared more about her students than herself,” says the mayor of Soto’s hometown. (Via)

 

We Can’t Tolerate this Anymore

17 Dec

The President with family and friends of victim Emilie Parker, 6

From the President’s speech in Newtown, CT Sunday night: 

This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.

And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.

Since I’ve been President, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by a mass shooting. The fourth time we’ve hugged survivors. The fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims. And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America — victims whose — much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try. 

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?

All the world’s religions — so many of them represented here today — start with a simple question: Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose? We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain; that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame, or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that no matter how good our intentions, we will all stumble sometimes, in some way. We will make mistakes, we will experience hardships. And even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans. 

There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have — for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace — that is true. The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves, and binds us to something larger — we know that’s what matters. We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that. 

That’s what we can be sure of. And that’s what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us. That’s how you’ve inspired us. You remind us what matters. And that’s what should drive us forward in everything we do, for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.

“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them — for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison. 

God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory.

May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort. And may He bless and watch over this community, and the United States of America.

  • Charlotte Bacon, 6: After much begging, Charlotte’s mom let her wear a new pink dress and boots to school. It was the last outfit the redheaded girl would ever pick out. “She was going to go some places in this world,” says her uncle.
  • Olivia Engel, 6: Olivia was looking forward to coming home Friday, to make a gingerbread house. “She loved attention,” says a family friend. “She had perfect manners. She was the teacher’s pet, the line leader. Her only crime is being a wiggly, smiley 6-year-old.”
  • Dawn Hochsprung, 47: “I don’t think you could find a more positive place to bring students to every day,” the principal said in 2010. As the AP writes, “When the unthinkable came, she was ready to defend.” She died lunging at Lanza.
  • Madeleine Hsu, 6. A doctor at Madeleine’s house said her family had no comment, adding, “This is the darkest thing I’ve ever walked into.”
  • Catherine Hubbard, 6. “We are greatly saddened by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Catherine Violet,” said her parents in a statement that thanked emergency responders.
  • Chase Kowalski, 7. Chase was outside all the time, and had recently won a mini-triathlon, says a neighbor. “You couldn’t think of a better child.”
  • Jesse Lewis, 6. “He was always friendly; he always liked to talk,” says the owner of the deli where Jesse ate his favorite sausage, egg, and cheese with hot chocolate on Friday morning.
  • Ana Marquez-Greene, 6. Video of Ana singing “Come, Thou Almighty King” is going viral. It’s in the gallery orhere. “As much as she’s needed here and missed by her mother, brother and me, Ana beat us all to paradise,” wrote dad Jimmy Greene on Facebook.
  • James Mattioli, 6. “It’s a terrible tragedy, and we’re a tight community,” says the mayor of the upstate New York town where James’ mom grew up. “Everybody will be there for them, and our thoughts and prayers are there for them.”
  • Anne Marie Murphy, 52. “You don’t expect your daughter to be murdered,” her father said, after he and her mother waited in vain for hours for news of their daughter. Murphy, a teacher described as a “happy soul,” died shielding her students. “It happens on TV. It happens elsewhere.”
  • Noah Pozner, 6. Noah’s parents moved him and sisters from New York “for safety and education,” an uncle says. He called Noah, the youngest victim, “extremely mature. When I was his age, I was not like him.” He will be buried today.
  • Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, 30. “Lauren wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten,” said her mom in a statement. After years of substitute teaching, she finally got that call this year. “It was the best year of her life.”
  • Mary Sherlach, 56. Sherlach died rushing Lanza with principal Dawn Hochsprung. “Mary felt like she was doing God’s work,” said her son-in-law, “working with the children.”
  • Victoria Soto, 27. “She beams in snapshots,” notes the AP, and she was killed after making sure her first-graders were safe. “She put those children first. That’s all she ever talked about,” says a friend. “You have a teacher who cared more about her students than herself,” says the mayor of Soto’s hometown. (Via)

 

Elementary Massacre

14 Dec

Someone opened fire today in a K-4 elementary school, killing approximately 26 people – it is now believed that 20 of them are students at the school; kids no older than 9. To say that my heart is sick right now from this would be an understatement. It is my fervent hope that this is the last straw – that our society will no longer tolerate this sort of thing as being a cost of living in a free society. Because it shouldn’t be; it isn’t. There are plenty of free countries that do not allow their angry, mentally deranged residents to waltz into a building and buy a firearm.

Plus three more guns.

Plus a bulletproof vest.

The 24 year-old who did this went to the classroom of 1st graders his mom taught, and murdered them all. The motive? Irrelevant – whatever it was, it was purely mental illness.

When we, the people, founded this country, we included in our Constitution a provision that would allow people to keep firearms to protect against tyranny at home and from abroad. Firearms then were significantly different from those we have today, and our constitutional originalists seem to omit that fact when agitating for free and regulationless gun ownership. There was also the well-regulated militia clause, something that has become moot since the advent of our professional military.

But it’s unlikely that we’ll ever change the Constitution, or that we’ll ever change the minds of the people who think that everyone should own guns; that had the teachers at the school in Newtown, CT been carrying guns, why the resulting shoot-out would have saved some lives. Maybe. I doubt it. After all, the shooter was wearing a vest. He had four firearms. Do we really want teachers to be packing heat? Do we really want teachers to dress like SWAT teams? Should we be protecting our schools with riot police and tanks?

The 2nd Amendment may guarantee an individual right to bear arms, but does it guarantee that right free from licensure or testing or regulation? I don’t think so. I’m so sick and tired of angry lunatics being able to obtain all the firearms they want, and bulletproof vests, without so much as a criminal or mental-health check. I am so sick of mass shootings taking place because it’s ok to own a gun, but it’s a horrible thing to provide people with adequate mental health resources. Ours is the only first world country to just allow mass murders like this to happen so often and so regularly, yet when people suggest that maybe the ease of access to firearms and ammunition are the problem, that conversation strengstens verboten ist. I’m sick of the tyranny, alright – I’m sick of the tyranny of the NRA telling Americans that they just have to suck it up and deal with a country that resembles the frontier west.

Because what’s slowly starting to happen isn’t that Obama is coming for your guns. On the contrary, Obama has done absolutely nothing to tighten gun laws. What we’re seeing, though, is America’s decline into 2nd world status. We’re South Africa with better water and sewage systems. Soon, instead of relying on just being a reasonable society, we’ll all travel in bullet-proof cars from gated community to locked-down office. American society is unique in the industrial first world in that we allow unfettered access to firearms, and completely fettered access to health care, including mental health care; guns are a fundamental, God-given civil right, but health care is not.

And if 26 people all died in the same school from a disease, you’d bet your ass the CDC would be in there to find out the cause and to prevent any future recurrence anywhere, at any time.

The United States is first in gun ownership. Yemen is second. We have 300 millions firearms in this country.

I don’t want to hear about these tragedies being rooted in evil or the human heart. We know the human heart is a substandard product. It’s offensive to put this forward as part of a discussion about policy as opposed to theodicy and meditation. We know that the vast, vast proportion of gun owners use them legally and safely. We also know that gun deaths are rare in many other countries quite similar to the USA for the simple reason they don’t have so many friggin’ guns all over the place. This is obvious. And guns just make it easy to kill a lot of people really quickly. Freely available body armor helps too.

Columbine didn’t do it. The shooting in Aurora didn’t do it. Virginia Tech didn’t do it. Maybe the brazen daytime murder of 20 little boys and girls will get us to start talking seriously again about the role of guns in our society, and the ways in which we can perhaps try to prevent something like this from ever happening again. Perhaps this shames the National Rifle Association to come to the table and discuss ways to impose reasonable restrictions on gun ownership that isn’t violative of the Constitution, but also helps to prevent angry lunatics from becoming living, breathing characters from Call of Duty with a few clicks of a mouse. I take some solace in the fact that on Friday afternoon the NRA’s website was fully accessible, but the Brady Campaign’s was so slammed with traffic that it went down.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Well, not exactly. It’s more accurate to say that, with both celerity and efficiency, people with guns kill people. In the case of the Connecticut shooting, the shooter:gun ratio was 1:4.

I’m not a gun person, and I’m not creative enough to know what to do or how to even begin to fix what’s quite obviously a horrible sickness in our society. But I am a parent, and I’ll tell you this:

I’m sick of this shit. I’m sick of guns, I’m sick of mass murders, and I’m sick of this shit. Every day is a good day to talk about gun control. Ask James Brady. He took a bullet in the head for Ronald Reagan.

Have a nice weekend.