Wednesday April 23, 2014

question of the week

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The time for change is now

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On many occasions the past few days I have found myself asking why? ó why so many innocent lives were taken away in an instant.

A horrible and unthinkable tragedy unfolded early Friday morning, Dec. 14, in Newtown, Conn., when a gunman killed 26 people including 20 young school children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The victims included teachers at the school and the gunman himself, identified as Adam Lanza. The first victim was his own mother Nancy, killed in their home before Adam went to the school on his rampage.

The acts are despicable, senseless and really incomprehensible. Who shoots innocent children?

Throughout the weekend I watched lots of news coverage both on television and on-line trying to make some sense of it all. But there is no sense to it all. Itís just senseless.

Iím not a parent ó not yet anyway ó but my sister gave birth to a beautiful daughter in August and Iím the proud uncle of darling Payton Muller. My sense of looking out for the next generation has heightened ó Iím already worrying about her and what type of society we will be leaving the young children of today when we are gone.

Schools are supposed to be safe havens away from violence, but children not only have to worry about bullying, they also have to worry about someone coming unglued and going to their school with weapons intent on inflicting harm. Itís just sickening.

Clearly the debate on gun control in the U.S. has to begin in earnest again. I do not own a gun and never plan to, and I donít have many friends who hunt or own guns. While I respect a personís right to own a firearm and go hunting for sport, the gun laws that are currently in place in the U.S. ó and in Canada ó are pathetic. Why does anyone need assault weapons and military-type weaponry to go hunting?

The answer is they donít, but the laws are not in place to say otherwise.

The shooting last week is just one of several in the past few months that have rocked the U.S. In Colorado in July an armed gunman opened fire in a crowded movie theatre, and earlier this month a mall in Portland was the scene of another shooting rampage. Last January a young girl was killed in the shooting of Arizona politician Gabrielle Giffords, and the list just continues to grow and grow.

Last weekend an Indiana man was arrested with 47 guns in his home after he threatened to kill as many people as he could at an elementary school near his home ó the news coming out as we all were struggling to come to grips with what happened in Newtown.

The U.S. gun homicide rate is 20 times higher than other western nations. According to Statistics Canada, firearm related homicides in Canada are at their lowest point in 50 years ó but our country still has problems too.

This should not be just a U.S. issue, either ó Canada should also be entering in this discussion.

Iím relieved at least to hear the words last weekend of U.S. President Barack Obama when he said, ďWeíre going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.Ē

And many U.S. politicians, who have been against examining gun laws in the past, are changing their views in light of the Newtown tragedy, which is also good to hear.

A tragedy like this should never happen again ó in any country. I only hope and pray that politicians get the message. Too many lives have been lost. The time for change and action is now.

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