Shooting should prompt questions

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 16, 2012

Just as a human being, and certainly as a parent of two young children, the breaking news alerts sent a sick feeling through my entire body. Reading the words had a very physical impact, as I actually felt waves of nausea with each line.

“Twenty children killed in elementary school shooting. “Casualties reach 26 in deadly shooting.”

Even though I am part of the media and read the “bad news” from our world every day, I am not sure we ever become prepared or desensitized to headlines like those that came from the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

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At least I hope we don’t.

Mass shootings have become far too commonplace. There were others last week in Oregon and elsewhere, but Friday’s vicious attack struck a chord with me, somehow making it more painful than the other equally tragic shootings over the years.

These were elementary school students.

They didn’t do anything to anyone. They were, in the truest sense of the word, innocents.

All the details have yet to come out and it will likely be weeks and months before we know the entire story, if we ever do.

After what appears to be an increasing frequency of mass shootings like this one, we — as a society — have to ask what we are doing wrong or what more we could be doing to address this.

I don’t have the answer. I don’t think anyone does. But the bottom line is that what we are doing clearly isn’t working.

As a staunch supporter of the U.S. Constitution I have always been opposed to major gun-control legislation. If we allow government to erode the Second Amendment right to bear arms, how long before the First Amendment — and rights very important to me like freedom of speech and the press — come under attack?

I certainly remain skeptical that gun-control laws would correct the problem. I’ve always felt that the old adage was true: “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

Simply put, we can’t out legislate crazy.

But maybe we can make it a little harder to obtain weapons that are made for one thing only.

Something has to change.

Our nation must do something to become proactive instead of just reactive to this terrible tragedy and the others that are sure to come.

Attacks like this are occurring at scary rates and our society’s current approach — simply burying our heads in the sand — isn’t getting us anywhere.

Any effective plan will likely have to include some combination of education, firearm restrictions and counseling for individuals who may be at risk for this type of behavior.

Lawrence County schools have done a pretty good job of trying to prepare for the unthinkable and ensure that student safety comes first.

But it is impossible to anticipate every scenario or prevent an attack. Nothing will change that, but we certainly have to try.

It is important that we avoid thinking that something like this can never happen here. It can happen anywhere.

The proof is in Newtown and Aurora, Colo., and Columbine and Virginia Tech and so many more communities across our country that will forever be trying to heal.


Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCaldwell_IT.