PD Editorial: Teachers need help to keep children safe

  • (TOM MEYER / meyertoons.com)

As evidenced by the extra letters we're publishing on the opinion page, the rampage in Newtown, Conn. Friday has unleashed many emotions. Today's letters package represents just a fraction of the correspondence we have received from Press Democrat readers in recent days, a response we have not seen since 9/11.

It's understandable. The killing of children — 20 first-graders — as well as six adults is something that should leave us all shaken to the core. But not everyone is reacting in the same fashion.

As with many syndicated columnists and editorial writers, a number of letter writers are outraged about the nation's lax controls on guns, especially semi-automatic weapons such as the one 20-year-old Adam Lanza used to kill 20 children and five adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Why are such weapons so readily available and relatively easy to purchase? What is the purpose of allowing easy access to the kind of ammunition used in Friday's massacre, bullets designed to inflict maximum internal damage?

Others point to lapses in our mental health system that may have left Lanza, who was diagnosed with mental illness and anti-social behavior, without the help he needed.

Still others want to blame this and similar shootings on lax security at schools. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, went so far as to suggest that the shooting might not have been as gruesome had the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School been armed herself.

Arming principals and teachers and building walls and barbed wire around our schools is certainly one way the nation can respond to this tragedy. But given that many schools don't have enough funding for hand towels let alone guard towers, we can't see how making schools more prison-like makes much sense either from a financial or a quality of life and education perspective.

What's remarkable in our view — and deserves more recognition — is what teachers and staff members at Sandy Hook were able to accomplish, armed only with their wits and love for the children in their care.

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