This blog entry is dedicated to the victims of the recent mass shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
I was checking the news on my afternoon break at the office, only to find very serious breaking news on Bay News 9: Mass shooting at elementary school. I checked every other local St. Petersburg area news websites, and they had the same thing.
This is very horrific. In fact, it is very sad. According to Bay News 9, 26 people lost their lives which include adults and children.
Coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy on selected media outlets (there are more articles being posted as more information comes in; check individual media outlets for further coverage):
CNN coverage (has complete coverage)
RTV Slovenia coverage (in Slovenian)
Every time I hear of a tragedy involving a school shooting on the news - whether it may be Sandy Hook in Connecticut or Columbine in Colorado (which happened in 1999) - it always reminds me of what happened in February 1988 at Pinellas Park High School in Largo, Florida. Two students that were suspended the day before - Jason Harless and Jason McCoy - got onto the school campus and began shooting when a faculty member identified the two students that were not supposed to be on campus. Two assistant principals and one faculty member were affected with one assistant principal, Richard Allen, losing his life while another assistant principal, Nancy Blackwelder, survived and the faculty member was hit by one of the shots and survived.
Both Jason Harless and Jason McCoy were put on trial and found guilty and both served prison terms. It is believed that Harless and McCoy stole the weapons used in the attack, similar to the assailant in the Sandy Hook shooting, 20-year-old Adam Lanza in which the weapons used were stolen.
Now how could school shooting incidents like what happened at Sandy Hook as well as Columbine and Pinellas Park have been avoided?
Zero tolerance school rules don't work. These so-called school rules punish even well-behaved students.
Arresting and jailing anyone that comes close to, but not upon, a public or private school campus in Florida doesn't work. These so-called security zones, similar to the sperrzones on the former East German border with West Germany during the height of the Cold War, turn law abiding Floridians into criminals for the rest of their lives.
What is really needed is better gun control. Specifically, we need measures in place to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of anyone not allowed to have them in their possession. It is believed that the assailants in the Columbine shooting had weapons which were purchased for them by someone else, called a straw purchase.
Unfortunately, we have a major barrier to gun control in America: The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Every time any piece of legislation - whether it may be on a Federal or Florida (or any other state) level - organizations that vehemently oppose gun control such as the National Rifle Association can, and have influenced lawmakers to significantly revise or withdraw legislation related to gun control.
Want a great example of effective gun control legislation? Head south on Interstate 5 in San Diego towards San Ysidro and the Mexican border. As you head south on Interstate 5 (or Interstates 805 or (soon to be) 905), you see the warning signs posted as you approach the Mexican border: WARNING: GUNS/AMMO ILLEGAL IN MEXICO. In other words, weapons and ammunition are illegal south of the border, and American citizens who tested this theory ended up spending time in Mexican prison.
Or, head north on Interstate 75 past Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and cross the two-lane international bridge over the Canadian border into Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. Yes, go got that right, Canada. Weapons and ammunition are severely restricted due to Canada's very strict gun control laws, and to enter Canada with a firearm you must declare it and fill out paperwork on entry. Try to bring a firearm into Canada without delcaring it and you can face substantial fines, not to mention having the firearm taken permanently away from you.
We are surrounded by countries on our northern and southern borders that have effective gun control legislation. But America's gun control legislation is way far from effective, which is sad but true.
A doctor treats a medical condition by addressing it from the source where the condition arises from. Likewise, Congress and the Florida Legislature needs to treat the condition of ineffective gun control by passing much better legislation getting to the source to begin with.
In closing, my condolences to the families of the students, faculty and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary School who lost their lives in the recent school shooting tragedy.