Saturday, December 14, marks the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. The infamous shooting, which took the lives of several faculty and 20 first grade students, reignited the debate of gun control and background checks, challenged our perception of American culture and brought the issue of mental health funding to the forefront of congressional discourse. During the December 16 vigil, President Obama stated he was going to do everything in his power to ensure a tragedy like this never happened again. Members of Congress stood up for enhanced gun control. The Brady Campaign strengthened its outreach for supporters. But what exactly has our government accomplished on preventing another tragedy like this? Were those promises turned into action?
In short, not really.
A Failing Grade
School shootings typically bring around quick and easy fixes to each individual’s perceived threat. “Let’s install more metal detectors.” “Hire more security for the hallways.” One school even began a training program to allow teachers to handle firearms following NRA’s suggestion of arming teachers. Experts, however, are adamant this is the wrong approach. The only way to curb these horrific events is to put something long-term into effect. More research is necessary to help identify potential shooters—more about behaviors and less about profiling.
The perceived notion of school shooters are people who have “snapped,” but this is misleading. Most school shootings are orchestrated and carefully planned. Most attackers felt bullied by others and engaged in certain behaviors that would indicate a need for help. But perhaps the most important aspect to remember: there is no one profile of students who could potentially be violent. They could come from good homes or bad, good or bad grades, etc.
Where do we go from here?
The response from the Obama administration was mainly centered around background checks and limitations on military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. The NRA was quick to jump in and argue against gun control, citing the Second Amendment as part of a citizen’s civil liberty. While 98 percent of the population supported background checks, the motion failed to pass in Congress for one reason: the Gun Lobby is just too strong.
As the one-year anniversary arrives this weekend more promises will be made and more action will be taken. But in order for something substantial to happen, in order for some measure of gun control to take effect, Americans should keep the families who lost their children at Sandy Hook in mind. It is only when we forget their faces or let Sandy Hook slip into “old news,” that we slip and become stagnant on passing legislation. Because if we can’t protect our children at schools on our own soil, how can we continue to call our nation “the greatest country” in the world?
Cover Image: Andrea Much / Much0 / Flickr CC