Jewish Journal

An outsider’s viewpoint on the Sandy Hook shooting

by Noga Gur-Arieh

December 18, 2012 | 11:39 am

First and foremost, I would like to say that my heart goes to the victim's family and friends. This is a terrible loss of innocent people whose only crime was to go to school. Here, in Israel, the story reached the first pages of the newspapers, and shock stroke us all. In the name of all of Israel, I would like to embrace the families who lost their dearests. Nothing we will say or do can bring them back, and I can only hope justice will be served to its fullest.

Secondly, I would like to point out that this post contains a certain amount of criticism. I am fully aware of the fact that I am an outside viewer, and therefore, do not possess all the information regarding the subject. As an Israeli, I receive a lot of criticism from people who think they know everything, but they actually don't. Experiences of such taught me to never assume I know better than the people who experience situation first hand. With that being said, I have a lot to say about the recent events in the States, with the information I currently have, by using my point of view as an outside viewer. I am not trying to make decisions for you, and I am not claiming I must be right- I am only trying to show you my point of view.

"The term "school shooting" is most commonly used to describe acts committed by a student or intruders upon the school campus. They are to be distinguished from crowd-containment shootings by law-enforcement personnel, such as the shootings at South Carolina State, Kent State and Jackson State universities in the United States…"

This quote from Wikipedia tells me much more than a definition of a phrase. It is, to me, a story of a terrible, sad reality, and a wrong perspective on life. It tells the story of Americans who already take brutal attacks of such as a solid fact that cannot be changed. It tells the story of Americans who cry every year for yet another victim. But the most awful part is that it tells the story of Americans who instead of preventing the next time, starting to think how short life is, and wishing it won't be them the next time.

Chardon High School, Chardon, Ohio- three dead; Banks County High school, Homer, Georgia- one dead; Stillwater Junior High School,  Stillwater, Oklahoma- one dead; Casper College, Casper, Wyoming- three dead;  Sandy Hook Elementary,  Connecticut- 28 dead. These are only the school shootings that occurred this year alone. Overall, in the history of the United States, there were reportedly, 136 school shootings. Most of them, if not all, were by Americans with certain mental issues (after all, no normal person would be able to commit murder) that had a gun in reach, which was held by themselves or by their family members, legally.  As I'm sure you all know, thanks to the Second Amendment, every American has the right to keep and bear arms.

In a way, it is very important that every person would have the right to defend oneself. I also understand why it is so hard to change the law now, almost 250 years after it was adopted. Every single time a disaster like this happens, and innocent people are brutally killed for no reason, the discussion regarding the Second Amendment rises, over and over again. Every single time, Republican Presidents, as well as Democrats Presidents, do nothing on that matter. They are scared of the consequences of the suggestion to limit the right to carry a weapon, because it might be interpreted as a limitation of one's freedom of protection. Instead, they shed a tear, say how much they now appreciate life, and basically wait for the next time some complicated and confused teenager will take his mother's gun and unleash his rage.

I admit it's not that simple. The Second Amendment is a symbol of freedom and democracy, which are two values that shape the United States of America. People want to feel safe, and they don't need any limitations when wanting to purchase a gun for protection. But now, I would like you to give another thought about the last couple of sentences. Can children in schools feel safe, when almost every year students lose their lives because of someone's right to protect oneself?  And for those who say that if the teachers would also carry a weapon, things like that wouldn't happen- think again! Let's say the teacher carries a gun in her purse, unless she is on guard at all times, and is an excellent sniper, she would never be able to protect her children from a surprise mad visitor at school.

The main function of weapons such as hand guns or rifles is offense, not defense. The fact that anyone can carry a weapon of such means that no one can ever feel safe. It does not mean the contrary. In the past couple of days, I've been reading many of my friends' Facebook statuses, talking about their renewed appreciation of life, because they now understand how suddenly it can end. I've read these statuses before. It was right after the shooting at the Batman premier in Colorado. It is almost as if you already know for sure there will be a next time. You are right; there will be a next time. History shows that. 

When I look at this reality from a distant viewer's point of view, I see a sort of helplessness. I see people who have already came to a complete understanding that this is just the way things are. It seems to me as if you look at these horrible murders as a solid fact that cannot be changed. You cry and ache every single time, but you are weak to the power of the law. It happens not only in the States, but all over the world. People start thinking of  things that must be changed as unchangeable, and it must stop. We must stop. I, personally, find it quite unbelievable that no President so far has taken the first step in truly protecting his citizens from becoming a part of the School Shooting statistics. Obama should  more than promise a change, he must make that change.He must truly try to prevent the next time from happening.

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My name is Noga Gur-Arieh, and I’m an Israeli Journalist, currently studying for my B.A degree in Media and Political Science, at Tel Aviv University.

I am very socially...

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