One year ago next week, the nation was rocked when a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 young students and six staff members, wounding others, in one of the deadliest mass shootings in United States history.
The Newtown shooting resonated in every community across the land, bursting the bubble that was our trust in safety and security in elementary schools. In the wake of the shooting, pundits from all sides discussed the matter, blaming everything from lax gun control regulations to video games to lack of security in schools to mental health issues.
The topic was on everyone’s mind, and politicians on all sides of the issue made promise after promise that something would be done. But one year later, all these issues have effectively been swept under the rug. Whether you’re for or against some of the proposed reforms — from gun control to mental healthcare reform — we can all agree that the issue has far too quickly receded from the national consciousness.
The country seemed to agree on one thing last year: something must be done to prevent tragedies like this. But one year later, we’re no closer to a solution. Of course, bills were proposed. Several attempts at gun reform were proposed in Washington, D.C., only one of which actually went to a vote and didn’t pass. And even though there is wide agreement that a better mental health system is needed to find and treat would-be shooters before they become a danger to society, precious little had been done on that front as well.
On a local level, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw created his Crisis Intervention Team to help stabilize mentally ill individuals and offer specialized treatment alternatives. This is a model more communities should look toward, as it can help identify and treat those with mental illness and possibly prevent future tragedies. Teaching deputies how to humanely deal with those suffering from mental illness can help make sure no one flies under the radar.
While this initiative could lead to progress on the local level, the same cannot be said for the state or federal level. The promises and vows of last December have been forgotten — at least until next week, when the anniversary will arrive to remind us of how little we have done to make our children and our communities safer.
The families who lost loved ones that day — and our entire country, who saw a piece of innocence lost — deserve better. We deserve action, not words; solutions, not promises. So as we take time to remember the tragedy that occurred last Dec. 14, let us all remember that although it has been a year, there is still much work to be done.