Guest blogger: Rita Schiano
A few days ago, I received an e-mail from Rena Hannaford, CEO of KidsTerrain, Inc., asking me to write a blog for their web site pertaining to the senseless killing of 20 innocent children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, December 14. It took me a few days to begin that assignment for I was simply too numb. But when I awoke this morning, the numbness had turned to a churning within my soul.
I’ve written far too many blogs precipitated by horrific acts similar to this tragedy. And while I find myself asking once again, when will this madness cease, I know there is no end date . . . and, sadly, there will continue to be more incomprehensible violence and more senseless deaths.
During the vigil on Sunday, President Barack Obama said, “We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. . . . And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” While I am heartened by President Obama’s words, the reality is that we are steeped in a culture of violence, with far too many guns in the hands of those who pervert our Second Amendment right to bear arms.
So, let’s do a reality check. When our Constitution was written, “arms” meant muskets. Our Founding Fathers had no way of foreseeing that arms would one day mean a high-powered, semiautomatic Bushmaster rifle, the weapon used in Sandy Hook and also used by the D.C. snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, who in 2002, killed 10 people and critically wounded three.
Our Founding Fathers had no way of foreseeing that arms would mean a semiautomatic Glock 9mm handgun, the weapon found in Sandy Hook, and the type of weapon used in the 2011 shooting at a shopping center in Arizona that killed six people and wounded then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others, and in the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech where 32 people were killed and 17 wounded, or a .40-caliber Glock used by the gunman in the Colorado movie theater in July, where 12 people were killed and dozens more were wounded.
Our Founding Fathers had no way of foreseeing that arms would mean a 9mm SIG Sauer pistol, the weapon found in Sandy Hook, and the type of weapon used in the Standard Gravure shooting that left eight people dead and 12 wounded; or the 9 mm semiautomatic handgun with multiple ammunition magazines used to kill six people and wound three at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and in the execution-style massacre at the Amish school in Pennsylvania.
The list of disturbing examples is far too long and far too sickening to my stomach to continue.
So what can be done? What “meaningful action” does the President have in mind? As Pierre Thomas said, “The genie is out of the bottle.”
“Meaningful action” must be multi-fold. We, as citizens, must raise our voices and demand by our votes a federal a ban on assault weapons. We, as citizens, must raise our voices demand by our votes that legislators turn their backs on gun lobbyists and turn and face instead those they represent with a commitment to safety; we, as a society, need to address the gaps in the treatment of mental health in this country; and we, as human beings, need to question our ethics when it comes to accepting as normal the brazen violence in our movies, in our videos games, and in our music.
Meaningful action . . . . Let us as a nation resolve in the New Year to define what the meaningful action will be, devise an actionable plan, and commit to not giving up on this goal until a safer America is a reality.
Endnote: I want to thank Dr. Ron Breazeale and Rena Hannaford of KidsTerrain, Inc. for the opportunity to share these thoughts with you.
Bio: Rita Schiano is an author, keynote speaker, and founder of Live A Flourishing Life™, offering programs help people develop and tap into the skills and attitudes necessary for them to overcome personal and professional barriers, build resilience, and live a better life. Ms Schiano is also an adjunct professor and teaches philosophy, leadership, and stress management courses. Her books include Live A Flourishing Life, a stress management and resilience-building process book, the critically-acclaimed novel Painting The Invisible Man, and the soon to be released, The Path To Flourishing. Visit her online at www.ritaschiano.com.