Editorial: Limiting liberty not an answer to shooting

Our nation is reeling from another unfathomable shooting tragedy and is searching for ways to prevent it from happening again.

"It," of course, is the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre last Friday in Newtown, Conn.

Twenty precious children, all ages 6 and 7, and six teachers were gunned down by a madman who then turned one of his weapons on himself.

Not surprisingly, President Obama spoke movingly and politically Sunday night at a prayer vigil in Newtown. He said government needs to do more to make schools safer for our children. He didn't say it directly, but we know that translates to how government can legislate a safer school environment.

The answers to this tragedy, of course, are more complex than any bill Congress or a state legislature can enact. Just as locked doors did not keep the killer from gaining entrance to Sandy Hook school, no restriction of individual liberty will prevent another madman from committing an unspeakable act.

Does the nation water down the Second Amendment, the part of the Constitution that guarantees gun ownership? No. The High Plains region is not the only place in the country that embraces the Second Amendment.

Indeed, communities such as ours are just like Newtown and others in Connecticut that fear government gun restrictions. The government need not heap restrictions on everyone because of the actions perpetrated by a tiny fraction of us.

What about school security? The heroes who died in Newtown threw themselves into harm's way to protect the children in their care. Just how does a school protect itself from someone such as the shooter in Newtown who blasted his way into the locked building with legally purchased semi-automatic firearms he took from his mother — after he had killed her to begin his murderous spree?

Do we arm teachers? We again say no. Some, such as Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, have suggested arming faculty members would prevent school carnage.


Are all public school officials somehow immune from the mental illness that led to the Newtown massacre? What is to prevent an angry or curious child from gaining access to an inattentive teacher's weapon left in an unlocked desk drawer?

The realistic, comprehensive solution is elusive and difficult to achieve, but not impossible. It needs no government-mandated restriction on our Second Amendment rights.

From Portales to Clovis and Tucumcari, to Muleshoe and Bovina in Texas, we first need to talk with each other on how we can better care for each other and be on alert to potential dangers.

It falls on each of us to know our neighbors and to detect when something is amiss with a friend or a family member, and then to act on it.

Sandy Hook will be known forever as another place where an unconscionable act occurred. Yet with careful study and introspection from all Americans, it also can be a place that sets in motion a process of individuals working without further government restrictions to cure what ails a grieving nation.

Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc. editorial board, which includes Publisher Ray Sullivan and Editor David Stevens.

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