Tragedies call communities to action

December 18, 2012

The tragedy in Newtown and our own recent tragedy in Lewes are completely different, yet details seem to link the two events.

Both tragedies unfolded in December, in the days just before Christmas. Adam Lanza’s murderous spree occurred Dec. 14, while pedophile pediatrician Earl Bradley was arrested Dec. 16, 2009. Like Bradley, Lanza is described as very intelligent and also socially challenged. Some who took their children to Bradley ignored his quirky manner because of his skill as a diagnostician, while Lanza has been remembered as bright, yet so withdrawn he could barely speak in class.

In Newtown, Lanza’s victims were mostly children; in Lewes, Bradley’s violence also struck the community’s most vulnerable, and although it’s now three years later, Bradley’s crimes, like Lanza’s, are still unfathomable.

Lanza’s weapons have drawn immediate attention. Outside a war zone, why should anyone have the kind of high-powered assault rifle Lanza used or the high-capacity ammunition clips he carried? Why are such weapons so easily available? Shouldn’t that magnitude of firepower be out of reach for all but the best trained and most disciplined soldiers defending our nation? It is far past time to end easy access to assault weapons. Getting these weapons and high-capacity clips out of homes is an essential place to start.

But focusing on guns alone is not enough. As the Cape Region knows, violence against children doesn’t always involve guns. The tragedy in Newtown, as in Lewes, must also draw attention to the critical importance of mental health care.

Mental health evaluation must be routine, administered as part of everyone’s annual health checkup. Quality mental health services must be made available to all, well before needs reach the crisis point in any more communities. Our hearts are broken for Newtown families who lost their children. In our Cape Region, Bradley’s victims survived, yet the loss of their innocence is no less heartbreaking.

These tragedies call us to action. It’s time to ban assault weapons and ensure better mental health for everyone, and especially for victims of abuse. In this season of hope, let us not forget to hold all of our children close and promise each one a safer future.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Dave Frederick, sports editor.