Lest we forget: Newtown is not old news

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By John Barrett

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On Dec. 14, five years will have passed since 20 children, ages 6 and 7, and six adult staff members were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. There was a public outcry followed the slaughter demanding action to prevent such an outrage from happening again.

Suggested responses included a universal background check system for the purchase of guns (one system, nationwide), bans on certain types of semi-automatic rifles, and limitations on magazine capacity. Congressional legislation to implement these efforts failed.

Nothing happened.

There have been numerous mass shooting since that time: The Newtown murders were followed by mass killings with familiar names — Santa Monica, the Washington Naval Yard, Charleston, San Bernardino and Orlando to mention just a few. Most recently, we have seen it again in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs.

The response is always the same. Initial outrage. Demands that something be done. Nothing happens. Then the cycle repeats. We have become numb.

In the same manner, we have become numb to the gun violence on the streets of our cities and towns. As time passes, we begin to lose our ability to become outraged. We are in danger of accepting these killings as the new reality of our lives.

Worse than that, we are in danger of forgetting about them altogether. Every killing should be remembered. That is especially so with the slaughter of children. 

I would invite everyone to observe a moment of silence and ask that that the funeral bells of all our local faith communities toll 26 times at 9:35 a.m. on Dec. 14, the time when the shooting started.

Let us not forget. Do not let the fifth anniversary of these deaths pass us by unnoticed. Change will not happen if we do not remember.

Saint Edmund Parish will remember the occasion on Dec. 14, following the 8:30 a.m. Mass with a special prayer vigil at 9 a.m. on the rectory lawn at 188 S. Oak Park Ave. where the names of the Sandy Hook victims will be read. All are welcome.

Also on Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Oak Park Public Library Veterans Room, there will be a special viewing of the documentary Newtown – What Remains After All is Lost? This powerful and emotional presentation may not be suitable for younger viewers, but all others are invited.

Lest we forget.

John Barrett, a retired trauma surgeon at Cook County Hospital and an Oak Park resident, is a member of Gun Responsibility Advocates and the St. Edmund Peace and Justice Committee.

Reader Comments

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Todd Johnson  

Posted: December 21st, 2017 6:39 AM

Newtown may not be old news, but it certainly was, and still is DEFINITELY FAKE news. This whole FEMA Capstone drill was a clear example of the exact type of 'propaganda' that Ovomit legalized with the Smith-Mundt changes he made. The problem is that the public is aware now, so when twisted news stories like Sandy Hoax (and more recently Las Vegas) where conflicting information and deliberately horrendous crisis actors are used, it is safe to say that there is some kind of agenda behind the news story. Now that more people have cell phones with cameras & common sense, it is safe to say that events like Las Vegas shooting of which produce ZERO evidence from the numerous surveillance cameras available & the people succeed in doing more 'actual' investigative journalism than the so called mainstream media news does, it is safe to assume it is FAKE & there is a greater agenda in place. So sad.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 10:49 PM

Bill Dwyer, where you at 219 or at a State court

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 10:46 PM

Brian Slowiak, I am glad you did not take any offense. Those weapons would not be available to any civilian. I never have really spoke about certain things and I am sure it is the same with what you have experienced. As for securing a Park for kid's, I would only want trained Law Enforcement agents and retiree's, because like yourself, you know how to respond to a situation. I have seen you perform your duties as a Police Officer, and you were always calm regardless of the situation.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 9:13 PM

@ Tommy McCoy: The apology is for the civil rights violation. The apology would help bring the two sides together. I have never wanted any of those weapons you mentioned. Those weapons fill none of my needs. Also, they are expensive to own shoot and difficult to handle, so why bother. There is never any offense when two people speak their mind. I look for a solution. I am saddened when none of my gun advocates wants to secure a park in Chicago for a night so the kids can play. I will never be a founding father, but I must strive to be a defending father.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 8:08 PM

I was just in court for the last six days covering a bench trial, which meant I had to sit through numerous hours of status calls and sentencing hearings in between the actual trial. I didn't observe any flaccidness. But you believe what you want to believe. Seems to be the spirit of the times.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 6:14 PM

Brian Slowiak, I am familiar with everything you wrote. I met the friends of the parents who son was shot on the porch and did not agree with their opinion. I met the lawyer coming home from work who was killed doing his job which prompted the change in Oak Park. Oak Park owes no apologies to gun owners. I never mentioned that Police Officer's are not allowed to carry weapon's as part of their job. You probably never had a chance to fire a real M16 on full auto, or a M60 machine gun, or hand grenades or fire a light anti-armor weapon, or like others fire bee hive rounds or set off a M79 grenade launcher or maybe you didn't experience a phosphorus mind being set off which burns and keeps on burning. It is a shower of fire that you can not get off you unless you did it out or let it burn through. So if you want to discuss how our Country has improved the weapons used since the Musket and flint lock pistol, you go ahead. Maybe you can even get Trump and the rest of them to allow you to keep a M60 at the foot of your bed. I have respect for you because you did serve 30 years as a Police Officer, risking your life, although when it comes to weapons, I don't think you really have had as much experience and I am just touching the surface. I sincerely hope I have not offended you in any way

Ray Simpson  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 4:41 PM

@ Dwyer - We all know that you hold me to be a fool and that is your first amendment right. I challenge you to come up with some specific regulations that would resolve any of these problems. I would like to also know how you are going to force a flaccid court system to enforce your laws after ignoring all of the others. You find fault with my solutions, put your own on the table!

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 3:42 PM

@ Tommy McCoy: I was not manipulated gun the gun manufactures to buy a gun. I did not hunt or own prior to becoming a police officer. I bought a stainless steel S&W revolver just so I wouldn't have to clean the gun. Stainless steel does not pit.While the musket thinking is nice, both inside and outside factions of the country determined the musket to be obsolete. The musket thinking does not explain why the military and the world constantly upgraded firearms. So, if the upgrade is good for them, it s good for me. Our new born country failed to impress upon the world at that time to call off the arms race. Since the police can not be held responsible to you for the loss of your life or belongings, I think some citizens might want the chance to defend what is theirs. To me, all he murder victims I saw had their mouths open, asking whoever for one more chance at self defense. Be it Moore or Trump, I can not dictate to them on how to campaign. Seeing how Trump pushes the envelope, I wouldn't put it past him The AR 15 I rent has killed less people than Ted Kennedy or Hillary Clinton. I lived in a community that had a residency for its police officers to live in town and then banned handguns for the rest of the community. Some six months after the handgun ban was passed, Charles Silvernail Smith, a minority, was hounded by a pack of angry white kids who chased him down after kicking him and trying to hit him with their car, cornered him. Smith used his handgun to kill his attacker. He was never charged with violating the handgun ban and four days after the incident at the preliminary hearing no probable cause for an offense was found. Yet the handgun ban was never re discussed. There has never been an apology by The Village of Oak Park for government violating the civil rights of its citizen. That would be a nice step if you want to work together We have many questions, we may never agree, what was learned is to never remain quiet.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 1:53 PM

I understand the issues just fine, Ray. I'm just tired of fools who don't seem to understand that, while better regulating guns won't solve all the problems we face, it WILL prevent criminals and the mentally ill from taking out entire crowds of people in mere seconds. If you have an example of anyone ever killing and maiming 30 people at once with a knife or club, by all means, share it with us.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 1:00 PM

@ Dwyer - We hear your complaints - now what is your solution? You seem not to understand that we have two issues here, Mental illness and gang/drug related violence. The Vegas story is weird because we are not being told anything. The shooter is just a name and why is being withheld - WHY? I suspect the whole issue has to do with Las Vegas trying to hide a dangerous situation. I abhor the mass violence just as much as Dr Barrett, however if we are going to do something let's make sure we are solving the correct problem.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 11:58 AM

In no way do I want to distract away from the real message of John Barrett, and rememberance. It is just in a country that a man, Roy Moore running for for the United States Senate can pull outa gun at his campaign rally and be considered responsible to be part of running our Country, with the fullsupport of Trump, makes me think how far have we let guns go. The Second Amendment was added because there was no standing Army. Gun supporters can change your thinking anyway you want on that topic although it wasn't you who did the thinking. You were manipulated by weapon manufactures and your wants for a gun. Brian, a simpler universal background could be done with a few questions. Why do you want a gun, and the applicant will say to protect myself. The second question is from what, and the applicant replies from people who have guns. The person taking the application replies, why don't we just take away all of the guns. To simplistic for most people so why don't we make almost everyone satisfied and go back to the original Second Amendment with the weapons used at that time. Everyone can have a musket and a flint lock pistol. Still to simplistic, then try this thought. Why at a Trump rally you are not allowed to exercise your right to carrying a gun at the rally. After all, you need to be ready at any time to protect yourself. Wouldn't it be fun for Trump to ask the crowd, who has the biggest gun here and people whip out their guns. I am not against guns although I don't understand why there is such a demand for guns in our Country. Most of the mass shootings have been done by people who qualified for a gun. Maybe it is time to slow down on gun manufacturing and ownership and learn a better way to live together and petition law makers to develop economy so there is less need for senseless violence

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 9:43 AM

Lest we forget. According to U.S. Abortion Clock.Org., Since 1980 there have been 1,477,256,393 abortions performed by surgeons since 1980. Those are the ones who profess "first do nom harm" refused to do executions, and who maybe get paid. I might have this wrong, but I think it is 879 abortions performed today by tax dollars expense here in the U.S.Attention Mr. and Mrs. America and all ships at sea, a Uniform Backround Check update. I don't have the entire story however Michael Bloomberg Poured 20 million dollars into Nevada to bring that state a Uniform BackRound Check system, which they won by 1%. Problem is, the law stated that the checks would be performed by The FBI., not the state of Nevada. FBI stated no one informed us, so we aint doing it. The passed law is invalid. I take great delight in this because I have asked before, what agency is going to perform the checks, and more importantly here in Illinois,what do we do with patronage army put out of business with a federal ID. For mere half a million bucks in consultants fees I could have put Bloomberg and company on the correct path.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 8:57 AM

Ray's right, John. If Stephen Paddock hadn't been able to get a dozen assault rifles and high capacity ammo clips, he'd have just substituted a knife or club to kill 58 people and injure another 515 from a thousand feet away in Las Vegas. So as you can clearly see, there's nothing we can do about gun violence.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 7:34 AM

Sorry John, but all of this hand wringing and effort won't change a single inner city gang member from living his lifestyle or solving a problem the only way he knows. Take away the guns and it will be knives and clubs, the ignorance and violence is the problem. These mass killings are all done by people who are mentally deranged and are shielded by our liberal privacy laws. We both want an end to gun (or all) violence so let's face the real problem which is societal and admit that we have lost a whole generation to the welfare state..

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