and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., didn’t happen in Tracy. But it could have.
Tracy residents know from painful experience that events we sometimes think of as happening to other people in other places can indeed happen here. And even if Tracy had not experienced its own type of tragedy, we’ve seen senseless violence too many times in too many places to consider ourselves immune.
It’s one of the reasons the horror at Sandy Hook strikes deep 3,000 miles away.
Locally, police and school officials insist that there are procedures in place to deal with campus incidents, and that they are reviewed and updated at least four times a year.
But it’s hard to imagine even the best-designed plan could prevent something like the massacre in Newtown, short of turning schools into prisons with armed guards — and if we’re out of options aside from that, we might have already lost the battle for civil society.
The truth is that a certain amount of risk is inherent in a free society, and tragedy cannot always be prevented.
That doesn’t mean we passively accept the massacre of innocent people as part of the American experiment. Quite the opposite.
We must push for change. However, we should not pretend to find an easy answer. If there is one, it is liable to be complex and not to the liking of ideologues.
It must sharpen our focus on public health to help those who suffer from mental illness and to support their families.
It must increase opportunity for young people who too often find the doors to advancement shut.
It must respect the right of Americans to own guns for recreation and personal defense, while conceding that not every type of firearm,
magazine or ammunition is appropriate for civilian use.
And it must take seriously the idea that our popular culture desensitizes us to violence and impairs our empathy toward others, while also acknowledging that individuals are ultimately responsible for such acts of violence.
There is no simple antidote to the type of violence we witnessed a week ago. But we can and must work together to find the proper alchemy to protect our communities, and do as much as we can to keep another Sandy Hook from happening.