, Newburyport, MA


January 7, 2013

No simple solution to complex problem

On many levels — as a parent, a grandparent, a retired teacher, a special education teacher, a citizen and a human being — I am impacted by the latest gun carnage in Newtown, which now becomes the latest reference word for tragedy.

I cannot fathom how a parent could receive such news and cope with the aftermath. I am dumbstruck by Robbie Parker, father of Emily and the first parent to speak publicly. I don’t know how he ever held himself together.

To look at the beautiful faces of the victims is to mourn the lost futures — the birthdays, the holidays, the graduations, the careers, the families of their own, as President Obama so sadly noted in speaking to the town the next day.

As a grandparent, I think of my two young elementary school grandsons just a few towns away from the shooting site. We have indeed stopped at a highway diner in Newtown on our way to and from Connecticut. It could have been our grandsons.

As a teacher, I wonder how I would have reacted and just stand in awe of the multiple brave actions, both from instinct and from the heart, by the teachers at Sandy Hook. So often it has been a teacher who has stood in the line of fire to protect a child.

As a former special education teacher, I also wonder at the effect of possible services for the young shooter, who, by all accounts, was a deeply troubled loner who had difficulty relating to people and life. Could this have been headed off by the appropriate therapies? Or was this disturbance just too great? And, if so, why was he walking the streets?

As a citizen, I just shake my head at the availability of all these weapons. Why is an assault rifle needed? Or high-capacity ammunition clips? Do gun manufacturers ever have doubts about producing the very weapons that massacre children? How many more times must this happen before we decide this is not the way to go? What does this say about us as a society if we continue with the status quo? Where else does this happen so frequently? And how does the National Rifle Association hold such sway? Are there to be no further limits to gun ownership and usage?

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