Commentary: Once Again, A Nation Finds Itself Horrified by Violence

The shooting in a Connecticut elementary school should remind Americans of the need for a serious dialogue about gun violence.

Posted: 12/14/2012 05:11 PM EST
Commentary: Once Again, A Nation Finds Itself Horrified by Violence

There are more questions than answers in the horrifying shooting that left 27 people dead, 18 of those being small children, in Newtown, Connecticut. 

More details are undoubtedly going to be revealed in the coming days. But for now, the nation is again shocked and repulsed by yet another act of random violence. It is a level of mayhem that has become all too familiar, far too common.

And, so, it would seem that there is a clear need for a more comprehensive national discussion on the topic of violence, particularly gun violence, in the United States.

While the nation is shocked and aghast by the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, it is part of a larger pattern of unbridled violence. In recent years, we have seen the horrific murders in Tucson, Arizona, and in Aurora, Colorado.

But we have also seen less well-covered acts of violence in inner city communities across America, from Chicago and Los Angeles to St. Louis and Atlanta. It is a level of violence that doesn’t discriminate as to whom it victimizes. As we have seen, it occurs in the core of urban America, in the suburbs and in small towns.

An uncharacteristically emotional President Obama talked to the nation about the grief that accompanies such tragedies, of the young lives that end prematurely, of the unrealized graduations, recitals, weddings and joys of life. The president’s emotion made it clear that there is little danger that Americans might become desensitized to the rash of violence.

“As a country we have been through this too many times,” Obama said, while fighting back tears speaking to the press from the White House. Later in his remarks, the president said “We have to come together and take action.”

And therein are some extraordinarily welcomed words. In a nation where guns are too readily available, where some 40 percent of gun sales do not involve any background checks, where handguns are often as easy to obtain as driver's licenses, where mental health treatment is often unavailable or inadequate, there is a profound need to discuss the nature of violence.

Hopefully, with the senseless deaths of yet another group of young lives, the nation will reach such a level of outrage that something, anything will at last be done. It is long overdue.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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