One year later

Today marks a year since the horror of a gunman walking into an elementary school and taking the lives of innocents, forever changing the lives of a small town in Connecticut.

What didn’t change was the nation’s mental health policies, gun laws or, unfortunately, its ability to guarantee such events won’t happen again.

Gunman Adam Lanza was disturbed. He had access to weapons. He used them to kill his mother, then to go to the nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School and take the lives of teachers and children.

But while the calls for gun control sounded loudly in the immediate days after the tragedy, the resolve to touch even the remotest form of law regarding guns fell apart.

And it becomes obvious that gunmen with an attitude will find a way to do their deeds.

Or they will use bombs as the two Chechen brothers accused of the terrorism at last April’s Boston Marathon did.

Or they will lash out at extralegal speed and slam into innocents driving on Thanksgiving night, as a 24-year-old Ohio man is accused of doing on the Ohio Turnpike, killing a couple in their 70s.

The issues are, then, not really about access to weaponry but about the ability of people to value human lives, others as well as their own, beyond their immediate need for gratification, or political statement or some unfathomable empty hole, as is suspected of being within Lanza.

We live in a world where the mere mention of certain words can lead schools into lockdown without waiting for evidence of bombs, guns or bullets, and disruptors are learning that the threat can be as effective at messing up a school as actual action.

The unfortunate reality is that, until the nation addresses the root causes, somehow, that lead to madmen grabbing weapons of their choosing to go hurt others, we will live in a frightening world where every gathering in a crowd, every assembly, every school day, every trip into a public place could be accompanied by someone with ill intent.

Vigilance and locked doors and paranoia by the public, gun-toting or not, won’t solve the problem.

Throwing money at the mental health system won’t fix the issue anymore than throwing money at education has raised the ability of American students to compete internationally.

There is a disconnect in many people and resolving that begins with reconnecting people to the concept that human life is a fleeting gift, and that all people, beyond ourselves, have value.

As the grieving for Sandy Hook’s children moves from the public eye after this first year, the nation needs to continue to grieve for itself, and to find the way to pick up its pieces and move on, sanely, and peacefully.