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Healing Is A Process PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia & Mike Terry   
Thursday, 20 December 2012 06:28

Valley Residents Talk About What Happened In Connecticut And What Needs To Change


Father Thomas Caughlin of St. Ferdinand Catholic Church

The stunning images of wounded and frightened children seeking safety, followed by continuous mind-numbing reports on the 26 shooting deaths at Sandyhook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., are burnished into the nation's conscience.

It has also - again - fueled a debate about a need (or not) for more gun control, and the banning of assault weapons like the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used by shooter Adam Lanza, who killed himself after his rampage. In the City of San Fernando, the aftermath conversations about what happened, and how to keep it from happening again, are just as strong here as they are in Connecticut or Congress.

"I'm always amazed at how much people will defend the right to have these weapons, it's crazy," said resident Michael Remenih. "I understand the necessity to own guns for selfdefense, but I cannot see justification for some of these powerful weapons."

Residents Salvador and Victor Ponce said they believe certain guns, like pistols, could be justifiable as a means of personal protection, but not all weapons.

"We see these incidents one after another. Certain guns should not be in private homes," said Salvador Ponce. "Automatic weapons have no place out there."

"They shouldn't be on the streets at all," argued Victor Ponce. "They should be for strict use of the military." Victor Ponce also suggested that gun owners go back for follow up safety courses from time to time to make sure they understand how to use the gun, and to check up on them.

Another resident, Robert Ortega, doesn't believe in the saying that guns kill people, or that people kill people. For him, the real issue is limiting or banning ammunition.

"Bullets kill people. Put a heavy strict rule on ammunition," he suggested. "You can have the guns, but not the bullets." Local activist Linda Campanella-Jauron, who is opposed to the right to bear arms, said the people who agree with her and those who don't should come to a compromise on the subject.

"I think we can make reasonable compromises where our children's safety is concerned," Campanella-Jauron said. "People who believe in access to all firearms are part of the problem, not the solution. But I think we can find a middle ground where those people, and those who believe all guns should be banned, can meet. Because I know my side is not going to win, and neither will they."

There is dealing with the immediate visceral reaction to a tragedy. Then there is the deeper, darker issue of trying to understand the reasons for the killings, and how a shocked nation can start to heal. Meanwhile, Father Thomas Coughlin, priest of the St.

Ferdinand Church in San Fernando, is helping his parishioners search for those answers. "Particularly with this occurring during the Christmas season, it comes as kind of a countersign," Coughlin said. "We're thinking of the promise of peace on earth and goodwill toward men, so it comes at an even more horrific time of the year for this to happen.

"Healing is a process that will take time. This touches us because it shows us our vulnerability. If we can't protect our own children, the most innocent and most vulnerable, it exposes our own vulnerability," he said.

"As a priest and religious leader, the grieving process needs to take into account this deep vulnerability within us that I believe can only be healed by receiving God's grace and recognizing our continual need for God's grace in our lives, which is ultimately the only real security that we have."

Michael Scott, who's seen senseless violence as a Los Angeles police officer, said people need to regain the ability "to come together, to respect and love" one another, as well as a willingness to communicate more with each other.

"It takes parents raising their kids, teaching them to respect and love one another," Scott said. "But I [also] tell people talk about how they feel, and heal together. It's better to do things in groups, and look out of each other.

"Everyone goes through things in life, and having someone to talk to is one of the most important things you can do." The most daunting question, of course, is how to keep incidents like this one from reoccurring again and again.

"There are no universally popular answers, and probably there are no simple answers," Coughlin said. "We have a gun culture in this country reinforced by certain interpretations of the Constitution. It is somewhat encouraging that our lawmakers are at least talking about reaching some better solutions.

"We could probably, and we are, recognizing the need for better security in our schools. At the same time, there probably is no absolute means of preventing violence against our children or anyone else. But we can certainly reduce the risks that now exist."

With the ravenous and endless news cycle world of today, there's no telling how much longer this issue will stay in the spotlight. But the fact people are talking about what happened at Sandyhook Elementary, and what should happen next, is a good sign to Scott.

Any direction toward doing something positive is good," he said. "Any change that is going to do something positive is good. There are all sorts of ideas on what we can do, and it starts first in the home.

"It all goes back to teaching kids to do the right thing, and raising kids the right way. Sometimes there are hidden things like mental illnesses; but as parents we have to seek help. If you suspect something, you seek help for that. Our state and country are filled with resources and we have to utilize them."

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 December 2012 06:32