Shootings raise questions

By Observer editorial December 18, 2012 08:23 am

Shooting incidents like the one at the Clackamas Town Center in Oregon and at the grade school in Connecticut happen so often in our country they seem to blend into one another after awhile. They become a jumble of vague memories, indistinct after the shock of hearing about them wears off. 

The people directly affected never forget, but for most of us, the details, the number killed, names of the victims, identities of the shooters, fade away. We struggle to understand these things and we cannot. We brush them off and go on living, as we must. 

Now, though, these incidents are fresh and our revulsion runs deep. We’re especially saddened that they happened during the season that is supposed to be about peace on earth, goodwill toward men. 

At the Town Center, the mall’s Santa Claus dropped to the floor in fear for his life. The shooter killed two adults, wounded a teenage girl, and shot himself while Christmas music played over loudspeakers. These details make the crime all the more horrific.

Christmas will never be the same

For the families of the victims, the girl in the hospital fighting for her life, the thousands of holiday shoppers who experienced gut-wrenching fear, the emergency responders who helped stabilize the scene, Christmas will never be the same. This one will be short on comfort and joy, long on grief and sorrow. Each coming one will awaken painful memories.

The Connecticut massacre on Friday was far worse, claiming 27 lives  Most of the dead were children looking forward to their upcoming
Christmas vacation, and a visit from Santa Claus Dec. 25.

Communities can try and improve security at shopping malls and schools and other places where mass killings tend to take place, but truthfully, no one can predict where, or when, the next incident will happen. There are many guns in many hands, and some of the people who own them are twisted and full of hate. 

How do we fix that?

That’s a question too complex and difficult to answer now, though it must be answered someday. This Christmas, the best we can do is say a prayer for those who died, if we’re so inclined, or give them an extra compassionate thought if we’re not. Above all, we should count our own blessings.

Maybe we should try better to remember, too. We need to think and talk about it more. If we go on forgetting, the problem of mass killings will never go away.