The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

December 18, 2012

Avoid knee-jerk responses to this horribly tragic event

ENID, Okla. — Every so often, an event so horrific occurs that it demands our attention. It sears into the nation’s psyche.

America, and the world, is in mourning after the heartbreaking massacre in Newtown, Conn. As we remember the heroes and bury the victims, we pause to reflect on what we have lost.

With emotions running raw, we should avoid making knee-jerk responses to this horribly tragic event.

State Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa, announced plans to file legislation allowing teachers to carry firearms at school. In response, state Sen. Ralph Shortey suggested broadening the privilege to school employees with concealed-carry permits.

Out of respect to the victims, we shouldn’t rush to change gun laws. Now is not the time to arm teachers or clamp down on gun rights.

We asked readers their thoughts via an online poll at http://enidnews.com: “What will stop incidents of mass killings in United States schools?” The suggestion of “better parenting” earned the most votes with 46 percent.

Some agreed with the McCullough’s viewpoint, while others suggested bringing God back into our schools.

Cameo Kingsbury shared another opinion via our Facebook page.

“A homicidal lunatic opened fire on a bunch of kids,” she wrote. “It wasn’t because your own special brand of religion wasn’t in the room with those kids. It was a nutbar with guns.”

Shawn Hime, superintendent of Enid Public Schools, said the district works to prepare for crisis situations and regularly practices safety procedures with students and staff.

Hime also offered advice to parents and patrons trying to comprehend the tragedy. He suggested talking with children and watching for signs of stress, fear or anxiety.

Elementary school patrons in metro suburbs are sad to see the police officers now greeting them after Sandy Hook. While this is a sobering sight, cops and metal detectors are commonplace in urban middle and high schools.

Regardless of where you stand on the gun debate, one thing is clear: Our society fails to adequately care for our mentally ill. Sadly, it takes a tragedy of this magnitude to start paying attention and prioritizing this issue.

“People with mental issues that have violent tendencies need to have facilities that will take care of them,” Terrie Simunek Gulliford commented on Facebook. “We have a state who is closing ours down. Wrong move.”

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