BY JACK LEVINE
I so deeply wish I did not have to write this message, but as an advocate, I feel impelled to do so.
In less time than it takes to microwave a baked potato, a deeply disturbed boy, aged 15, terrorized his Oxford, Michigan high school. murdering four students and injuring an additional four, including a teacher.
“I can’t imagine that reality not sending a chill up the spine of anyone who thinks of Christmas gifts as an opportunity to share love and joy. Instead, this gift was employed to evoke pain, suffering, and senseless death.”
On a bright post-Thanksgiving morning…a day when the focus should have been the celebration of a festive holiday weekend, this boy decided that vicious violence would be his dominant motivator. Murder is the ultimate act of rage. Mass murder of innocent victims is far and away the most heinous of all crimes.
The details of this abhorrent rampage are still unfolding yet it is becoming apparent that sins of omission were committed by authorities whose inaction may have contributed to the horrific result.
Among the most shocking facts is that the automatic handgun he used to commit his crimes was just days before given to him by his parents as an early Christmas gift. I can’t imagine that reality not sending a chill up the spine of anyone who thinks of Christmas gifts as an opportunity to share love and joy. Instead, this gift was employed to evoke pain, suffering, and senseless death.
I am not in a position to analyze the facts…that task will fall to experts far more qualified than I. My perspective is one of an interested citizen and policy advocate who is committed to positive outcomes despite the challenges we face.
The searing emotions felt by family members, peer witnesses, and a wide diversity of individuals in the Oxford community are too complicated to express.
What is not complicated and undeniable is the deep feeling of sorrow…if only this and other acts of mass murder did not happen. But the reality is that we live at a time when the death and wounding of innocents have become all too routine. Too many of our schools have been shooting galleries dozens of times over the past years.
We live with a generation of young people whose lives have been imperiled too many times…almost to the extent that they have a fatalistic expectation of their future. Fear is commonplace in too many young minds.
Here is the link to a compendium of U.S. School Shootings over the past two decades.
The Positive Paths Forward
As the father of two sons who attended public school and university in an era of relative safety and an advocate of positive family policies for some 40-years, I’m extremely engaged.
As a grandfather of two healthy and happy granddaughters, I consider my ardent advocacy a legacy opportunity. Our sweet Julianne and Mollie Joy have become added inspirations for my commitment to doing the right thing for all children.
One lesson is clear. It’s essential to recognize that our children and youth need every opportunity to grow to be healthy and positive adults. There are so many ways we can, from pre-natal care through quality education and special services, increase the odds of success for all children.
“The stranglehold exerted by firearms manufacturers and distributors which paralyzes our political system must be confronted.”
The costs of our failure to provide quality services for those who need them most are far greater than the amount we could and should invest in successful policies and programs for our children.
While we grieve for this tragic loss of life, I sincerely believe we must energize our resolve to take action to reform our laws and encourage voter participation.
Our policy leaders should be emboldened to enact prohibitions on access to weapons by youth, restrictions on gun show purchases without background records checks, limitations on the sale of super multi-round ammo magazines, as well as enact restrictions on access to military-designed automatic weapons.
We should join forces with our law enforcement, public health allies, reform advocates, and families affected by firearms violence in this fight to bring needed legal redirection.
Legitimate gun ownership for self-protection, historic collections, and sport hunting is not at issue….but what is clear is we are at a point in our lives when logical lines of defense must be drawn.
The debate should not be whether any change is needed…..but to what degree are we willing to recognize that slaughter can be prevented if we mesh quality mental health services and school safety measures with strong and enforceable firearms laws.
The stranglehold exerted by firearms manufacturers and distributors which paralyzes our political system must be confronted. All other industries are required to be accountable for human safety and the effects on public health and the safety of their products.
It is evident that the firearms industry should likewise adhere to sensible regulatory standards.
Here’s a link to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence for additional information on sensible firearms reforms.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was created to demand action from legislators, state and federal; companies; and educational institutions to establish common-sense gun reforms.
Finally, How to Reduce Shootings a column by Nicholas Kristoff – The New York Times – is a compendium of data that creates a compelling case for reform.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – JACK LEVINE
Read more from Jack Levine here
Jack Levine, Founder
The Advocate’s Credo:
Thou art my child, my parent, and my elder,
I love thee best,
But could not love thee half as much,
Loved I not all the rest.