School shootings leave communities heartsick

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What can any of us do to release ourselves from the fixed horror of the moment and take a step forward? There is some small comfort in the speeches and memorials and tears. Those who lost children and friends will be committed to their grinding days of rituals and goodbyes. Those of us in the wider community will remember this day for as long as we live. When moms and dads sent their kids off to school on Monday, it was with some trepidation. And with some trepidation every day after that.

It’s hard to say how or if we can prevent such things from happening again.

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about gun violence. I pointed out that within three days, two 4-year-old boys were shot and killed in two separate incidents, one in the Bronx and one in Virginia. Lloyd Morgan was killed by crossfire among suspected gang members at a housing complex in the Bronx.

According to an account in The New York Times, Lloyd was playing with some other little boys when he was shot. His mother said, “My son was four years old. He hasn’t gotten to live his life yet.”

In the Virginia tragedy, a young boy climbed into an unoccupied pickup truck outside his house, as boys will do. In this case, he apparently found a gun and accidentally shot himself. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Guns in America are as ubiquitous as flags. We have a right to bear arms. It says so in the Second Amendment.

What isn’t right is the proliferation of guns, especially semi-automatic weapons, on our streets, and the increasingly violent nature of our culture, from movies to TV to video games to kids’ cartoons.

The guy who shot 12 people to death and wounded 58 others in a Colorado movie theater legally purchased a handgun, a 12-gauge shotgun and a semi-automatic rifle. He bought more than 6,300 rounds of ammunition online. Online! According to an account in The Times, the semi-automatic and weapons like it were tightly restricted under a 1994 law known as the Assault Weapons Ban. That law expired in 2004. For eight years, neither President Bush nor President Obama has been willing to fight to reinstate the ban.
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