On Dec. 14, five years will have passed since 20 children, ages 6 and 7, and six adult staff members were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. There was a public outcry followed the slaughter demanding action to prevent such an outrage from happening again.
Suggested responses included a universal background check system for the purchase of guns (one system, nationwide), bans on certain types of semi-automatic rifles, and limitations on magazine capacity. Congressional legislation to implement these efforts failed.
There have been numerous mass shooting since that time: The Newtown murders were followed by mass killings with familiar names — Santa Monica, the Washington Naval Yard, Charleston, San Bernardino and Orlando to mention just a few. Most recently, we have seen it again in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs.
The response is always the same. Initial outrage. Demands that something be done. Nothing happens. Then the cycle repeats. We have become numb.
In the same manner, we have become numb to the gun violence on the streets of our cities and towns. As time passes, we begin to lose our ability to become outraged. We are in danger of accepting these killings as the new reality of our lives.
Worse than that, we are in danger of forgetting about them altogether. Every killing should be remembered. That is especially so with the slaughter of children.
I would invite everyone to observe a moment of silence and ask that that the funeral bells of all our local faith communities toll 26 times at 9:35 a.m. on Dec. 14, the time when the shooting started.
Let us not forget. Do not let the fifth anniversary of these deaths pass us by unnoticed. Change will not happen if we do not remember.
Saint Edmund Parish will remember the occasion on Dec. 14, following the 8:30 a.m. Mass with a special prayer vigil at 9 a.m. on the rectory lawn at 188 S. Oak Park Ave. where the names of the Sandy Hook victims will be read. All are welcome.
Also on Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Oak Park Public Library Veterans Room, there will be a special viewing of the documentary Newtown – What Remains After All is Lost? This powerful and emotional presentation may not be suitable for younger viewers, but all others are invited.
Lest we forget.
John Barrett, a retired trauma surgeon at Cook County Hospital and an Oak Park resident, is a member of Gun Responsibility Advocates and the St. Edmund Peace and Justice Committee.
Answer Book 2018
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