The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is ugly, heinous, heart wrenching, wrong and totally unforgivable. Babies shot dead in their classrooms. There are no words to describe the wash of emotion surging through me at this moment. We as adults, parents, citizens tolerate this violence or we would end it, contain it, and prevent it.
Young white children in the Connecticut suburbs killed en masse rightly creates outrage. But the first report found in a quick search whose numbers I trust, one by the Children’s Defense Fund, shows that thousands upon thousands of children are shot dead in America every year.
In 2008, 2,947 children and teens died from guns in the United States and 2,793 died in 2009 for a total of 5,740—one child or teen every three hours, eight every day, 55 every week for two years.
Taking a 30-year snapshot when child gun death and injury data collection began,116,385 children and teens were killed by firearms between 1979 and 2009—enough to fill 4,655 public school classrooms of 25 students each. Since 1979, America has lost nearly three times as many children and teens to gunfire as the number of U.S. military personnel killed in action during the Vietnam War, and over 23 times the number of U.S. military personnel killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan (5,013).
We are all to blame. Each and every one of us allows this to go on when we do not promote discussions about violence, when we teach – often by inaction and silence – that “the other” exists. We are all guilty when we allow reality tv that promotes stupidity, personal celebrity, and snarky disregard of others to blast out in our homes. We are all guilty when overlook the violent video games are played by our older kids, and we allow or overlook our significant others to view exploitation porn. We are all guilty if we allow our churches to promote any attitude that differentiates ourselves as chosen and better or apart from others. We are guilty if we isolate ourselves and our families rather than to embrace everyone and build community.
We are all guilty of killing these children and the adults who did all they could to protect them.