I spent most of today complaining about my migraine because, let's face it, migraines are icky. I buried my head underneath my pillow, turned off the lights, television, phone and laptop and slept away my misery. When I awoke a few hours ago, I felt a little bit refreshed, no longer having the flashes of blinding colour or the pounding sensation in my head. I switched on my phone, loaded up Twitter (as you do) and felt the good sensation that was rippling through my body slip away rapidly.
A few hours ago, the news broke that a shooting had occurred in a school in Connecticut. Painfully, it felt like an all too familiar scenario. I've lost count of the amount of times that I've switched on Twitter or had an email conversation with a friend in the US to discover a mass shooting in a place that should be safe. But this time is just so much worse. I felt numb. The shooting took place in an elementary (primary) school. These children are five years old. The horror I felt rose more and more as further details came in. The current death toll at the time of me writing this is 20 children and six adults. It's sickening and horrifying when any human life is extinguished but it feels so much worse when it's a child.
Unfortunately, us here in the UK have experienced a primary school shooting before. The Dunblane massacre happened in 1996, when I was far too young to know, understand or contemplate the events. Sixteen children and one adult lost their lives on that day. As a direct result, the United Kingdom government introduced tighter gun controls and legislation, which has thankfully ensured that we haven't witnessed another event at a school on that scale since. For reasons unknown to me - and to any sane individual - America never seems to have these conversations with themselves. After Columbine, Virgina Tech, Aurora, the whole world sat back and waited with bated breath for America to take a stand and protect their citizens. Instead, I was treated to this on Twitter this evening...
Now, excuse me if I'm being ignorant but I think I'm missing something that this particular Tweeter knows. Since when has the possession and use of a deadly weapon - a weapon that exists solely to inflict damage and to kill - been regarded as more important, special, or valuable than the safety and lives of children? I love America more than anything (well, except London. Because, y'know, London rules) and I've been dreaming of living there since childhood. Me and Valentine have discussed it at length over the past few months, picking out our ideal destinations and even drawing up lists of restaurants we want to eat at, places we want to visit and people we want to meet. But with the events in Newtown now a regular occurrence in the States, I just don't know how I can reasonably justify a move there. How can I convince myself to raise a family in a country where their safety is not appreciated or guaranteed? Even with the gang shootings that have swept across London over the past few years, and the riots we had last year, I would feel infinitely safer in the deepest, darkest corner of South London than I would in a seemingly ideal small town neighbourhood.
These beautiful children in Connecticut left their homes this morning full of Christmas and Hanukkah joy, excited to see their friends, learn their ABCs and play. They had their whole lives ahead of them. Twenty bright lights, future world leaders perhaps, who will never come home. Twenty families who must now face the holiday season without their incredible children. Twenty lives forcefully stopped before they could even begin.
Why can't there be a clause in the United States Constitution that protects the basic sanctity of human life in America?