“You may say I’m a dreamer,
But I’m not the only one.
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.”
Imagine by John Lennon (1971)
Thirty five years ago the world was shocked to learn John Lennon was killed outside the entrance to his home in the Dakota Building in New York City. Part of why the news was so startling was not only because Lennon was a Beatle, but because after all his fame, music and notoriety, he was an icon of peace. And his killer was a mentally ill man who was able to get his hands on a gun despite his unbalanced status.
A few days after Lennon’s death, one of the New York papers ran a drawing of a smoking gun with the caption-“And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree there will be an answer”-from “Let It Be”. That was December 1980.
Less than four months later, another mentally ill individual attempted to assassinate President Reagan and permanently disabled Press Secretary James Brady in the process. That event led to one of the country’s first gun laws with the passing of the Brady Bill.
Nearly three years ago, 20 children and 6 adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-two years ago yesterday 6 people were killed in the Long Island (NY) Railroad massacre.
In the years since places like Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Casas Adobes, Northern Arizona University, Texas Southern University, Umpqua Community College, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, UC Santa Barbara and too many others have experienced mass shootings. While some are acts of terrorism, like the ones in San Bernardino last week along with the those in Paris last month, the majority of the shootings which occur in this country are not.
Wherever you stand on the gun issue, we all must be able to agree that when a church, an elementary school, a college campus or a movie theatre becomes a shooting gallery, something has to change. Something that keeps the guns out of the hands of those too ill to understand the effects of their actions, while allowing those who are of sound mind and body the right to keep and bear arms. Because these mass shootings cannot continue to be routine events. They cannot and should not be our legacy.
We have got to be better than this.
Just imagine for a moment that we are.