We've become far too used to that sentence. It usually means something horrible has happened. We heard it when
We heard it that Friday, when a 20-year-old gunman walked into a
When stories like these happen, they are marked not just by tears, fury, finger-pointing and hand-wringing, but something else: a noticeable shift in national attitude.
And while it is still too early to fully measure the impact of the
What place is safe anymore?
And the sense that certain places are always safe -- that even that most evil wouldn't dare come here -- is forever shattered.
Turn on the news.
No, it was not the first school shooting. Not even the deadliest in this country. The
That happened 85 years ago. So we can't say senseless violence is new. But in the age of the Internet and 24-hour TV news, where images are instant and nonstop, it was the faces of frightened children and gasping adults that will stay with us for a long time.
That and the ages. These kids were 6? Seven? It is horrible enough to hear college students recalling a massacre. Or teenagers detailing murder at a movie theater. But the young, squealing voices of the
That type of horror you expect to lament in a war. When it happens at
But there is a reaction.
And it doesn't go away.
The morning of the shooting, I was traveling through an airport. In the security line, I got stuck behind a mother who was placing at least 10 items on the metal detector belt: bag, child's bag, coat, child's coat, stroller. As I stood there, tapping my foot, I thought back to how
What similar changes are likely in the wake of this latest tragedy? Will armed guards be the norm at elementary schools? Will parents decide where to enroll their children based on the level of gun-wielding security?
Surely, the debate will rage over whether more guns or fewer guns would have made a difference here. And a small minority will point out that when something like this happened in a grade school 16 years ago in Dunblane,
Expect no repeat here.
But something will give. In a nation that can't agree on much, we all hold hands over the preciousness of childhood innocence. Every parent squeezed his or her child a bit tighter that Friday night, and every one worried a bit more when the school bell rang that Monday morning.
- The Other Cliffs
- A Holiday Letter from America
- Take Care of the Children
- Newtown: The American Paradox
- The NRA vs Common Sense
- NRA 'Solutions' are Straight Out of a Stallone Movie
- Put Prospective Gun Owners Under the Microscope
- Too Many People Who Should Not Have Guns Do
- Newtown Shines Spotlight on Mental Health
- After Newtown: Will We Finally Act?
- Sandy Hook: Explaining Evil
- Fine Words, Delayed Action
- On Newtown, Mourn First, then Act
- School Shooting a Watershed Moment
- News and Social Media Amok
- In Colorado, Empty Gun Dorm Sends a Message
- Who Moved My Twinkie?
- The 'Land of Opportunity' is Becoming Hollywood Fiction
- Our Endless State of War
- Name that Foreign Policy Legacy
- A Date with History: The Cuban Missile Crisis
- False Tweets, Future Jailbirds?
- Hurricane Sandy's Wakeup Call
- Principled Pragmatism Beats Bush-style Bluster
- Empire and Its Consequences
- Netanyahu Foolish to Take Sides in American Election
- Hurricane Sandy and the Living Planet
- Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: New Jersey's Even-Odd System
- Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Mamaroneck Damage
- Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Brooklyn Looters Beware
- New York Cancels Marathon for First Time Due to Sandy
- Canceled NYC Marathon Disappoints Runners
- Hurricane Sandy Retrospective
(c) 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.