“I haven’t been able to read a book aloud since.”
Jackie Barden was speaking about the shooting death of her son Daniel at Sandy Hook. Saturday marks the one year anniversary of the day Adam Lanza stormed into the elementary school and using a gun – not a knife – killed 20 students, and 6 adults.
Daniel loved to cuddle in bed and have his momma read books to him.
“To think it’s been a year since I held him, it’s no time at all,” said Nicole Hockley of her son Dylan who will be forever six-years-old in his momma’s mind.
This passage of time that media and the nation marks is only an aching reminder of all the moments that the families of Sandy Hook have missed with their loved ones.
And what of Adam Lanza and his mother? Those that grieve them – and there must be some who do – have been relegated to the darkest corners to do their mourning, privately.
The rest of us? We have gone about this past year troubled by the evil that was unleashed in that tidy Connecticut community. We muttered heartfelt prayers. We sent money. We wrote out cards. We watched documentaries and tried to make heads and tails of what makes a killer kill. We’ve convened school board meetings and talked about safety. We’ve joined online communities and signed petitions seeking change, seeking protections, seeking mostly to make sure this doesn’t happen at our kids’s schools or to our grandchildren.
But the thing we’ve done best in the year since Sandy Hook is nothing much.
School shootings are epidemic in this country. In the year since Dylan and Daniel crouched behind their teacher’s outstretched arms, lambs to Lanza’s slaughter, there has been on average a school shooting in the US every two weeks, according to a report by The Daily Beast. Those shootings – all during the school day’s operating hours – left 17 people dead and 24 injured.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook, President Obama called on Congress to pass legislation that would have banned assault and high-capacity magazines and expanded background checks.
The bill died in the Senate.
Adam Lanza learned guns at the shooting range, where he, presumably, was taught gun safety. His momma bragged about her son and his skills on the shooting range. She was a proud gun owner, who, by all accounts, did all the appropriate things. She kept those guns under lock and key.
It is true what the NRA folks say: Guns don’t kill people.
But is also true that people with guns can kill a hell’uva lot more people than people with knives and box cutters can.
Adam Lanza was under medical care. He had been treated by mental health specialists. He was his mother’s primary concern. Yet no one, not one person, saw any symptoms of the terror unthawing behind Lanza’s frozen demeanor.
The only thing that could have prevented Sandy Hook – the only thing – would have been if Adam Lanza had never had access to guns.
Take the guns out of Adam Lanza’s hands and Daniel and Dylan and 18 others would have finished first-grade at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Take the guns out of Adam Lanza’s hands and principal Dawn Hochsprung would have wept at daughter Erica’s July wedding.
Take the guns out of Adam Lanza’s hands and Jackie Barden would be cuddling with Daniel as he read out loud “The Littlest Angel” or some other book to his momma this Christmas morning.