The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


December 27, 2012

Tragedy happens anywhere, at any time

— We were outraged by the mass shooting at a movie theater in Colorado.

We were frightened when a gunman started firing at a shopping mall in Oregon.

And we wept at the most senseless tragedy of them all, as a troubled young man targeted innocent children in a Connecticut elementary school.

As big as an impact as those horrific events had on us personally, we still felt a bit removed. Two of the shootings were thousands of miles away.

Even the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn., is nearly a six-hour drive from Johnstown.

Last week, the effects of a mass shooting hit closer to home. Much closer, in fact.

We’re not naive enough to think that crime doesn’t happen here. Any number of violent deaths over the past year or so have hammered home that point.

But when a gunman in Blair County killed three people before being fatally shot by state troopers on Friday, it erased any doubts that we had about how “something like that can’t happen here.”

It can.

We pray that it doesn’t, but the cold truth of the matter is that it can happen anywhere, at any time. That’s the situation in which we now live.

It’s a frightening realization, but it’s one with which we must come to grips. It’s also something that we must try to change.

There already has been a renewed effort to try to tighten gun laws. We say, enforce the ones already on the books.

There also has been a much-needed push to do a better job of recognizing and treating mental illnesses. Maybe that can do something to stem the tide of what seems to be weekly reports of these slayings.

We don’t know what the answer is. No one does. But we all need to work together to find a way to make America safer so that we don’t find ourselves living in fear.

Our future and our way of life depend on it.

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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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