It was the most shocking mass killing yet in the stream of massacres in this country. It seems unreal, beyond belief that such a terrible evil could be done. Our hearts go out to the families devastated by the unthinkable malevolence that took their children last Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
As the families and their community and the nation mourn, there are voices calling for actions they think or hope might help prevent another massacre. Democratic lawmakers and independent Joe Lieberman want military-type assault weapons banned and a national commission created to look into mass shootings, gun laws, the mental health system and violent video games and movies. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) wants to ban ammunition clips, drums and strips of more than 10 bullets, and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) wants a national discussion that includes school safety.
Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert says the way to prevent mass shootings is to make sure there are more guns — not fewer. He said if Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung had been armed, she could have taken out the shooter, Adam Lanza, who killed her when she tried to stop him.
Significantly, perhaps, even Hollywood shows signs of acknowledging a link between violent films and violent acts. Actor Jamie Foxx said Saturday — most ironically, while promoting the extremely violent Western, “Django Unchained,” — that the industry has an influence on violence in society. He said, “We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn’t have a sort of influence. It does.” Fox pulled new episodes of two series, including one about a demon dealing punishment to naughty children at Christmas. How’s that for a Christmas story? But Quentin Tarantino, director of “Django Unchanged,” said tragedies happen and the guilty persons should bear the blame for the violence they commit.
No doubt, violent films and videos may influence susceptible, unstable people to act out similar violence, just as the availability of guns — especially assault weapons — may encourage and certainly enable shooters to wreak their unthinkable evil on the unsuspecting and the innocent. Yet, it is not clear that banning films and guns will prevent mass killings by someone determined to commit them.
However, it is clear that better security at our schools is part of the answer to the question of how to prevent massacres or at least minimize the killings. That should include adequate armed security or police officers and might include arming school administrators. As for identifying potential shooters like Adam Lanza, that is the most daunting challenge of all. We can only hope and pray that challenge can somehow be met.