Friday, December 14, 2012

Latest school shootings leave many questions to be answered

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

In the face of another school shooting tragedy, it is hard to find words.

This week's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut leaves most Americans speechless as we attempt to come to terms with the deaths of these innocent victims, many of them children.

I realize as I write these words that, by the time many of you read this column, information regarding the shootings will have changed, added to and altered as more facts become available.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims. I cannot begin to imagine the horror and pain that must be weighing on not only family members but also friends and relatives in and around Newtown.

The city of Newtown is very close in size to Piqua and Troy. A CBS News correspondent described the town yesterday as "a place you go to buy apples and pumpkins."

In other words, Newtown, Connecticut is like so many other small cities across our country ... a town just like ours.

Every time a tragedy of this sort strikes, we like to say, "It won't happen here." Once again, we are seeing that "it" can happen anywhere.

Like every tragedy that occurs, there will undoubtedly be blame and finger-pointing as details come to light.

Of course, one of the most likely culprits in this situation will be the firearms themselves. People will cry long and loud that the availability of guns is to blame.

Those of us who have common sense know that nothing could be further from the truth. A gun is an inanimate object — a tool. Period. But, as was mentioned yesterday, there is a time and place for that 

discussion and this is not the time.

Another of my initial reactions to the shootings is the action taken by law enforcement investigators. I was very impressed at the way that law enforcement officials took control of the scene, worked the scene and kept journalists as up-to-date as was humanly possible, given the circumstances.

All of this was done under what must be the most trying and difficult circumstances a law enforcement officer could ever face. Many people seem to think that police officers are robots, immune from emotion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most law enforcement officers are, themselves, husbands or wives and parents to their own children.

I grieve today, not only for the victims and their families, but also for the law enforcement personnel and their families. I cannot begin to comprehend the magnitude of what they are going through.
My hat is off to all law enforcement officers who are participating in this investigation.

Members of the media are also not immune from the sorrow from a story like this. One cannot be in the vicinity of this type of tragedy without become emotionally effected.

That leaves us with, where do we go from here?

Obviously, there are many things still needing to be done regarding the investigation. There are families that are going to need support from all of us.

People will undoubtedly ask how a repeat of this tragedy can be avoided.

There will be knee-jerk reactions about more restricted access to schools, armed guards and, of course, banning guns.

As with most situations, making instant judgements are never wise.

There is no way to give a 100 percent guarantee for anyone's safety, that includes our children.

We may not want to hear it, but keeping our children behind locked doors and attempting to protect them to the nth degree also prevents them from living life as it was meant to be lived.

All we can really do is to protect them as best we can and remain vigilant to keep danger at bey.

Maybe the most important lesson is to tell those close to you, especially your children, that you love them. Life is short. You never know when you tell someone goodbye, it could be the last time.

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