Tag Archives: school shootings

Twenty Little Angels

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved

It has been a week since the Sandy Hook shootings…

Most of us are still reeling from the tragedy and attempting to navigate a roller coaster of emotions. This shooting has been more difficult to deal with than most.

Maybe it’s the proximity to the holidays; the time when most little children are wide-eyed excited about lighting the Menorah or sitting on Santa’s lap.

Maybe it’s the reality these were little innocent six and seven-year old’s, many of them sitting in a Kindergarten classroom singing songs and reciting the alphabet. Trusting their teachers to impart the knowledge required to navigate this big and oft-scary world.

Maybe it’s simply because we are just done. Our shoulders are breaking from the burden of helplessness. Done with the continuing senseless shootings at the hands of troubled young men with automatic assault weapons and endless rounds of ammunition loaded into military-style clips.

Whatever the reason, these twenty little angels have come to stand as symbols of all that is wrong with our world.

The great gun debate has once again reared its ugly head with little talk of equally important things like mental health issues. The head of the NRA made the extremely insensitive choice to speak at a press conference a mere hour after a national moment of silence for the victims. In his speech he failed to take the stance of gun control and instead decried the absence of armed guards in all of our schools to protect our children from all the “evil bad guys” waiting in the wings to kill more of our children.

The NRA does not care about protecting your Second Amendment right to bear arms. Really, it could give a crap.

What the NRA cares about most is a $3.8 billion industry that keeps them in the money. The purpose of the NRA? They are lobbyists who represent gun retailers.

There is a ton of money behind the NRA because the gun business is BIG business. Of course they will take the stance that we need to put more guns in our schools. More guns in our schools means more gun sales for gun retailers which means more money in the coffers of the NRA so they can buy more politicians. You see how it goes…

What the NRA does not refer to in these speeches meant to rile up the NRA’s gun-toting “4 million mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters,” is the fact Columbine had two armed guards at the school during the time Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 and injured 21. Or that Virginia Tech had an entire police force housed on campus when Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 and wounded 17. Armed guards made ZERO difference.

Our focus should remain on the twenty little angels who died that fateful Friday. As mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters, we should continue to shout the names of these victims. We should keep a face on the innocent lives lost whenever a military-style assault weapon is wielded by a mentally ill individual and turn our focus away from arming ourselves in paranoia against all the potential “bad guys” who are creeping around in the shadows waiting to pounce.

Violence always begets violence.

As I stated in my blog “For the Innocents Lost,” we cannot look at gun control in a vacuum. We need to keep the conversation surrounding mental health on the table right beside automatic and semi-automatic military-style weapons and gun control laws.

We owe it to the victims and their families…

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Aveille Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6
Rachel Davino
Dawn Hoschprung
Anne Marie Murphy
Lauren Rousseau
Mary Sherlach
Victoria Soto
Nancy Lanza

For twenty Fridays forward, I will create one angel piece in memory of the twenty little angels that died that day. They will be limited edition (100 pieces) printed on 12×12 metal. Fifty-percent of the proceeds are being donated to one of the Sandy Hook victim’s relief funds that focus specifically on help for the siblings and classmates of these victims. The prints can be purchased here: For the Angels of Sandy Hook.

Thank you to all who have already purchased a piece from last week’s posting.

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For the Innocents Lost…

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.

Yesterday was art day for me. A kind of therapy day in the midst of a very busy week.

I was in the middle of working on the above iPhone montage when the news broke of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings.

I was stunned.

I was heartbroken.

I cried. No, I sobbed…

How in the world could anyone take the lives of such innocent babies?

Like everyone else in this country I feel devastated.

In the past I have addressed the gun control issue on this blog. I believe strongly that automatic and semi-automatic weapons should not be available for purchase on the market. Stricter laws surrounding background checks and proper identification should be enforced. However, purchasing firearms by way of “legal” retail channels is not the only way people who intend to do harm find those guns. If someone is set on using a gun, they can find it and still purchase it through illegal means.

I am all for the gun control conversation, however that conversation should not be held in the vacuum that it is usually held.

We need to stop sweeping mental illness under the rug. That is the BIGGEST conversation our country needs to have right now… It should be the “why?” Not the “what?” or the “how?”

We know that guns kill. But so do knives and bare hands and barrels of fertilizer and all the bombs we drop on other countries. Gun control is an important conversation because it gives us all a sense of “control” during a time when we feel utterly helpless.

But we should also be brave enough to face the fact that mental illness is REAL and there are a lot of individuals in our country who suffer.

Parents, teachers, doctors, clergymen, friends, family, etc. need to be trained to recognize the signs. We need to encourage our politicians to stop cutting programs that help the mentally ill. We need to have a conversation about the constant stream of violence that fills our televisions, the internet, our music and video games that feed unstable minds. We need to have a conversation about dysfunctional families and how they serve as triggers for mental illness.

But more than that, we need to start loving each other a little bit more. We need to stop and listen. We need to give a lot of hugs and kisses and stop our self-absorbed busy existence long enough to make a difference in the lives of a young person who might be hurting very deeply inside their soul…

For now, I am going to continue to embrace life and cherish each moment I have been given on this beautiful planet, as if it were my last day. But I am also going to love more deeply, listen more intently, attempt to understand more thoroughly, and always take the time to wrap my arms around the wounded souls that cross my path.

[I have decided to run a fundraiser for the siblings and classmates of the victims. You can purchase the above limited edition 12×12 print (run of 100) for $80. Fifty-percent of the proceeds after cost will be donated directly to a victim’s relief fund set up for the children of Sandy Hook. You can read more or purchase the print here: For the Angels of Sandy Hook]

For the little angels of Sandy Hook:

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Aveille Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6

We will hold you in our hearts forever…