Will There Be Another?

That’s it, isn’t it?

Will there be another?

We mourn and lay to rest this week more than two dozen souls, twenty of them six and seven-year-old first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

I wonder what they wore when they dressed up for Halloween?

I wonder if any of them kept “calendars” like my six-year old niece does. She showed it to me over Thanksgiving, paper proof that she had left the little girl back in kindergarten.

She rubbed the pen on the tip of her nose–concentrating like her dad, my Big Bro does–and added my December birthday. Already taken was the date of her December birthday.

And Christmas.

At this age, they still believe in Santa. Did any of the Sandy Hook elementary kids ask for a puppy? A Wii game? Books? An iPod?

Will there be another?

That’s a question we asked after the shootings at Columbine High School, after Virginia Tech which I covered, leaving DC and driving four hours into the bowels of Virginia, arriving minutes before a live shot.

We asked this question after Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords was shot in the head. She survived and if you watched her at the Democratic National Convention, you know she’s inching, remarkably but slowly, toward recovery. Six that day weren’t as lucky as she was.

Will there be another?

Didn’t we just ask this after Aurora? Oregon?

High school. College. Grocery store parking lot. Movie theater. Mall.

Elementary school.

Regular places desecrated, turned into crime scenes by easy access to guns designed to be used in combat against armed enemies and numbing violence glorified in video games, music videos, and feature films with headliner Hollywood stars.

We are working out our outrage by talking about this.

We’re also talking about cuts to treatment of mental illness.

We’re not talking enough about the tatters in which many families and communities live and our complicity–all the people who sat next to a mom on a bar stool and knew she and her son were in trouble, all who blew off that “weird kid” who was growing more withdrawn, more “off”.

Will there be another?

Our elected leaders are being called upon, again, to restrict access to guns. Despite public outcry, the National Journal correctly notes that any action or inaction will be due to the math behind the politics. In the House, few Democrats are “fish out of water” or representing GOP districts. The reverse is also true. With little political threat, these lawmakers appear to have little incentive to do the right thing unless the public, unless voters, unless you keep up significant pressure.

Will there be another?

My heart wants to say no, that this is the watershed moment that goes down in history when common sense framed our right to bear arms, not a context that’s 200 years old.

But for more than six years, I’ve observed the way power moves in Washington: special interests, money, and a fragmented, entertainment-oriented media that mingles too closely with power.

I’m sickened to my stomach because my answer is yes, because I believe unless the people break up the power dynamic with outrage that turns into sustained action on the various elements of this issue, there will be another mass shooting.

And one after that.

But I hope I’m wrong.

Click here or below to listen to my participation and analysis in “The Beauty Shop” on NPR’s Tell Me More with Michel Martin where I joined Michel, Melinda Henneberger chief journo-blogger at the Washington Post’s She the People blog, Democratic strategist María Cardona, and Michelle Bernard of the center-right think tank The Bernard Center for Women, Politics, and Public Policy.

This segment aired on Wednesday, December 19, 2012.

To hear more hot topics on TMM‘s “Beauty Shop” with Viviana, Michel, plus smart and sassy ladies, click here.

Will there be “another” or do we have the political will to address and ultimately stop the elements that contribute to mass shootings?

 

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