In April 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 students and one teacher in Columbine, Colorado, while injuring 21 others. Michael Moore documented the tragedy in his 2002 film, Bowling for Columbine, which sits on YouTube, available for everyone to see. It’s heartbreaking to think that a decade later, students are no safer at their schools. If anything, gun control has slackened during the intervening years (thanks partly to the Supreme Court) and mass murders have become more commonplace, if not a monthly occurrence. 12 were killed and 52 injured in Aurora, CO in July. 10 killed in a Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin this August. Five gunned down at Accent Signage Systems in Minnesota in October. Two shot dead at a mall in Portland, Oregon earlier this week. And now 20 youngsters and seven adults killed at an elementary school today in Connecticut.
We’ve reached the point where it has become an exceptional American pathology. Indeed, we’ve had 27 mass murders since Columbine, with the worst two taking place in schools — Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook Elementary. We also have exponentially more gun-related deaths than any other country in the developed world. I sincerely hope this isn’t another instance where we breathlessly express outrage for a week, then turn back to the Kardashians, until the next shooting happens in February at best. Public spaces should be safe, schools all the more so. It’s time for the apathy and the fear of lobbies to end, and for our leaders to finally lead. What might a practical action plan look like? Let’s turn to Nicholas Kristof’s plan outlined in The New York Times. You can also donate to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Below, I have posted President Obama’s moving speech made last night in Newtown, CT. It worth watching and reflecting on.