A gunman opened fire Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, killing 26 people. 20 of the victims were children. The shooting was one of the deadliest in U.S. history.
Our viewers posted hundreds of comments on our Facebook page, expressing their reactions to the shooting. Many left comments examining a variety of factors that might lead to such a tragedy and how our society might solve them. Here are some of the most popular suggestions.
Strengthen gun laws
Many of our viewers indicated that they feel very strongly about gun laws.
One asked, "if someone wants to shoot 27 people, do you really think stiffer gun laws will stop it?"
"I think that the bad people are outnumbering the good," wrote Kimberli Sullivan. "We have gun laws in place that keep even those who have a concealed hand gun license unable to carry their guns, and most of the laws are enforced in schools and other public places where these shootings keep happening."
Many of those who responded agreed with this sentiment, encouraging lawmakers to relax gun control legislation. They feel that if more of the "good guys" are allowed to carry guns, it will decrease the amount of gun violence in our society.
Reader Brad Freisner had a different take on gun control. "To me it's a simple solution. More control at point of sale, remove the high capacity weapons and regulate the mental health [of gun owners].
Regardless of which side of the fence people fall on regarding gun control, this was one of the most talked-about issues on our Facebook page since Friday.
Religion in the classroom
Many of our Facebook followers feel that the lack of prayer in schools is the reason for the increase in school violence.
"I'm not saying bad things will never happen, but if we are telling God He's not welcome in our schools we are just inviting the devil in," said Samantha Cole.
"Schools were a lot better when God was present," added Ramona Smith.
Arm the schools
Another hot-button issue is arming administrations and teachers so they would be better able to protect their students.
"If the principal had a gun he could've saved many children," said Greg McBride, expressing a sentiment that many agreed with.
Paul Webster, Sr. stated, "we need to assign trained armed guards outside and inside our schools. We have armed guards at professional sporting events, surely our precious kids deserve the same protection.
Another reader disagreed with the concept of arming school personnel.
"I just see too much room for human error if little Joey happens on Ms. Johnson's [handgun] in the purse beneath her desk when she steps out to speak with a co-worker," wrote Shaun Ward.
Improve school security
Along with arming teachers, many readers felt that school security should be beefed up.
"I'd rather have fenced-in schoolyards and metal detectors than a dead child," said Darlene Flowers. "Inconvenient yes but that may be what it takes to protect our kids."
Many readers agreed, saying that while it was sad to have to go to such drastic measures to protect our children, they would be willing to comply if it ensured the safety of their children.
"There needs to be a security building outside of every school," said Lori Lee Ray. If someone needs to drop off a lunch or pick up a child, then it can be done right in that building."
Improve mental health care
While many argue that gun control is the issue at the heart of this debate, others say that our society needs to look at raising mental health awareness and improving mental health care for those who need it.
"The attention should be deflected from the weapons and directed toward mental illness and prevention and treatment," said Ashley Bowers.
Shonda Stephens wrote "Some families with children with mental health issues get discouraged on getting help for their children because when they do they tend to get harassed."
Lindy Burrell added that as a society, we must do a better job recognizing and helping children who suffer from mental illnesses.
"If as many people were proactive about mental illness as they are about gun control we might could actually help some of these kids & stop some of the senseless killings like Friday," said Burrell.
Think about the victims' families, not the shooter
A large number of our readers were frustrated at the amount of coverage the shooter was receiving from the media, stating that we should be more concerned about the families of the victims than the shooter.
"He doesn't deserve the attention those innocent children do," said Brandie Kling.
Kling's comment was one of the most liked comments we received.
Dan Ferguson asked, "what about all the innocent kids that had no chance to live life and the people that tried to save their life?"
Focus on parenting
Steve Glenn said that turning schools into a "high security" environment would make children feel as if they are going to prison every day.
"What needs to be done starts at home," said Glenn. "Parents must get involved with their kids and stay involved."
Many other commenters echoed Glenn's sentiment, saying that ultimately it lies with the parents to look for warning signs of irregular behavior from their children.
Others feel parents shouldn't be afraid to discipline their children and teach them about respect and consequences.
Pull kids out of school
Several parents expressed concern for their children's safety in school and were unsure if anything would be able to protect their children from another such event happening.
"What a sick world we live in," said Belinda Wilson. "[It] makes me wanna go get my kid from school and never send him back."
:My son is in kindergarten this year," agreed Shannon Leigh Bledsoe. "Makes me want to pull him out of public school right now and homeschool him,"
Watch out for one another
Some readers felt that society as a whole is most responsible for the shooting. They feel that we need to be more aware of the people we interact with, and reach out to those in need.
Nobody wants to get nosey in stuff like this until something bad happens then it's everybody's business," said Rebecca Hurd. "The signs were there, why didn't somebody be nosey and do something."
Brandon Blear added, "this stuff will never stop until we make sure as parents and human beings we care for each other and lift each other up. Stop the bullying because someone may be different than you."
What else can we do?
Now that you've read some of the solutions offered by our readers, what do you think we as a society should do? Share your solution or story about preventing school violence with us. You can post a comment below or leave a comment on our Facebook page.
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