I didn’t know any of the victims of the Newtown shooting. I’ve only been to Newtown once for an interview. I remember the long stretch of road and tree-laden landscape of the town, only twenty miles north of my house.
When I think of mass shootings, school lockdowns, and candlelight vigils, I think of Aurora and Columbine, towns hundreds of miles away.
On Friday, a young deranged shooter raised a semiautomatic rifle, with bullets designed to inflict the greatest harm, and repeatedly shot twenty, first graders and six adults, two, just kids themselves, others, with children of their own.
The massacre didn’t happen hundreds of miles away in Colorado or Ohio. The massacre happened, here, in Connecticut, just twenty miles from my house.
Even though I didn’t know any of the families affected by this tragedy of unimaginable proportions, I was affected by their horror, loss, and inconsolable grief. I was shocked and sickened, as I watched the news footage, and thought, “But, it can’t happen here.”
After the veil of shock lifted and the icy realization, “That it did happen here,” gripped my spine, I shed a tear for the families and for the innocence lost, while saddened by the sobering reality that it can, in fact, “happen here.”
Not Newtown, or any town anywhere, is immune from the random shooting of a psychopath. And the notion of living in a place that’s “safe” and “tranquil,” words synonymous with small town life, can be shattered in the fleeting gasp of a horrific moment.