Proverbs says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Responsible adults, whether they are Christians, Jews, Muslims, or agnostics, understand children need special care and guidance. They also require additional protection because they don’t yet know the ways of the world.
The young children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. were no doubt like other elementary school students–eager, curious, funny and, most of all, innocent.
“They had their entire lives ahead of them–birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own,” said President Obama in his address to the nation following the attack. “Among the fallen were also teachers–men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.” (Editors note: it was later determined that all the adult victims were female.)
Our immediate reaction to the senseless slaughter is to try to understand why it happened. It’s as though if we understand why, if there were some rational explanation, it would hurt less.
But there is none, even as we learn more about the shooter.
Adam Lanza was most probably developmentally disabled in some way. He is described by those who knew him as an intelligent, socially awkward loner. He may have had Asperger’s syndrome.
We also know that Lanza’s mother, Nancy, was a gun enthusiast. She took her two sons to the rifle range to practice shooting with her semiautomatic pistols and rifles. Adam Lanza used those guns, which his mother obtained legally, to carry out his Friday morning massacre, starting with his own mother.
All the victims at the school–20 children and six adults–were shot multiple times.
Notably, the school had a security system, but Lanza simply shot his way into the building. The school principal and school psychologist were shot as they tried to tackle the gunman.
Even before we are past the shock and horror, we are asking significant questions about how such tragedies can be prevented in the future.
Do our schools have to become like airports post 9/11 with security teams, checkpoints and screenings?
Must schools have armed security guards who are trained to take down intruders at the first sign of danger?
Should the country–or individual states–begin a serious debate about additional gun control measures?
The answers are not easy because any significant change in security or gun ownership will feel to many like an erosion of the individual freedom and liberty we so value in this country.
But 20 children are dead, along with six adults who tried to protect them. What happened in Newtown is so appalling that it cannot be dismissed as a completely random and unpreventable attack.
The victims of Newtown deserve more than that.