Can you even imagine? Can you even imagine what it must have been like in that lecture hall? Can you even imagine the horror of having someone - a complete stranger - barge into a lecture that was just getting started and just open fire, shooting at people he did not know, people who did nothing to him to deserve being shot?
Can you even imagine?
By the time I write this, this heretofore unknown gunman has killed five innocent people, five of my brothers and sisters, five of our children studying at an institution of higher learning. At the time of this writing, there are four in critical condition in area hospitals.
May the Lord's healing reach them as swiftly as possible, and may His soothing comfort be draped over their families.
May the Precious Beloved forgive me, but, whenever there is a shooting somewhere "out there," far away from me - like at Virgina Tech - I react with profound sadness, sometimes fighting back tears at the news of the carnage. Yet, when it happens in your backyard - like it did with the Northern Illinois University attack (and the Tinley Park Lane Bryant shooting) - it is different. It becomes "more real," and it really hits home. Such is the case with this latest of school shootings.
This shooting made me so angry: what gave the right to this person to take the lives of others? How dare he senselessly kill innocent children like that? What possibly can be the justification in his mind? Did he even have a sound mind?
No doubt, all those questions will be answered in the coming days and weeks. Yet, in this time of terrible tragedy, I can't help but think of the victims and their families. I can't help but think about the survivors: what kind of pain are they feeling? What kind of trauma did they go through? Are they re-living this horrible incident in their minds time and time again?
And their parents: what kind of agony are they going through now? I can't even imagine their pain, being a father of three daughters myself. I can't stand seeing my children suffer from the flu, let alone multiple gun shot wounds. And I have seen what a gun can do to you, being a critical care physician. It is so, so horrible.
I don't know what can be done about this scourge on our society: gun violence. It is true that people, not guns, kill people. Yet, at the same time, we have to make it harder to get those guns. As a parent who shares the agony of the parents of the NIU victims, there has to be a way we can reduce future massacres such as this one.
Maybe potential gun owners should be required to take a class on gun safety and responsibility, similar to driver's education. In the process, they can undergo a detailed background check to make sure they are fit to own a firearm. Admittedly, however, such a process would not have stopped the NIU gunman as he had no prior record. Still, perhaps such an onerous system may deter a would-be killer from getting a gun (unless he buys it illegally). Who knows what the right answer is.
Still, at this moment, my heart, my soul, and my prayers go out to the victims of the NIU attack. Let this blog post be my candle that I light for them. May the Precious Beloved Lord be with them in this terrible, terrible time. In Your Most Holy Name I ask this, Amen.