In a memorial speech on Sunday for the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, President Obama called the nation out. He asked the question of whether or not we as a nation are doing enough to keep our children safe. And he answered that question with a solemn, “No.” Acknowledging that this is the fourth time in his presidency he’s had to console victims of a mass shooting, the President said, “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.”
Though the president did not mention any specifics about gun control, he did call on all of us to confront the difficult choices ahead. He asked, “Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, the politics are too hard?” And speaking directly to those who say that unregulated guns are an expression of freedom in America, the President asked, “Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year is somehow the price of freedom?”
Not since President Carter challenged the nation on our excessive use of energy, has a President challenged the nation to fundamentally change itself. There is no single silver-bullet solution to these massacres. But we can start by taking assault weapons, high-capacity ammo clips and other weapons of war off the streets. We can start by investing more in community mental health programs to give help to those in need before their madness consumes another town. And we can finally get down to addressing the underlying cause of much of the relationship between violence and mental illness, which is wealth inequality.
With twenty 1st graders set to be buried in the coming week, now is not the time for delayed debates and half-measures. Now is the time for leaders who will usher America out of this dark age of violence toward a new renaissance of peace and community.
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