Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

December 16, 2012

OUR VIEW: Searching for lessons from tragedy

— Questions are far more common than answers in the aftermath of Friday’s school shooting.

A man opened fire inside a Connecticut elementary school. The shooter was reportedly among the dead, as was his mother, killed at the family home in Newtown, Conn.

Parents flooded to Sandy Hook Elementary School, about 60 miles northeast of New York City, looking for their children in the wake of the shooting. Police told the youngsters to close their eyes while leading them from the building.

The tragedy shocked parents not only in Connecticut but across the country, and one of the first questions many began to ask is whether such a tragedy could happen in their communities.

In the days and weeks ahead, school administrators and police officials in this area need to take a close look at that question. They need to look at the security measures in place and address what might need to be changed in the aftermath of Friday’s tragedy.

It’s hard to get our minds around such an event. What could provoke a gunman to enter an elementary school and open fire on children as young as five years old?

President Barack Obama addressed the shooting in an emotional statement Friday afternoon, saying, “Our hearts our broken today.” Obama, a father to two girls, wiped away tears as he noted the nation had “endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years.”

Our hearts go out to the families whose lives have been torn apart by this tragedy.

As a community in Connecticut comes together to put together the pieces, the rest of us are left to search for lessons from the tragedy. Were there warning signs that authorities might have missed that could have helped them to intervene before disaster struck?

Does this case point out any weaknesses in the current laws? Are there changes lawmakers in Connecticut and elsewhere should consider?

Those are the sorts of questions officials will be asking in the coming months.

Many are already asking how the gunman came to be in possession of the weapon used in Friday’s shootings. The inevitable debate will follow about what, if any, changes should be made to our nation’s gun laws.

Our goal any time such a tragedy strikes should be to examine everything about it to make sure we glean whatever lessons we can. That is the least we owe to the victims and their families.

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