On Tuesday, Newtown students returned to schools marking the beginning of a new reality after last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Students at neighboring schools are receiving counseling along with teachers and administrators who are expected to discuss the tragedy with students in an age appropriate manner, according to the teachers' union. Classes for the young children of Sandy Hook are not resuming just yet, as a new school in neighboring Monroe, Connecticut is prepped for their arrival. A tragedy of this magnitude for many brings to mind other senseless acts that claimed innocent lives like the Oklahoma City bombing at the federal building downtown in 1995 that killed 168 people – 19 of them children. Frank Keating was the governor of Oklahoma when that bombing occurred. He joins “Starting Point” this morning to discuss the Newtown tragedy and weigh in on the renewed gun control debate.
Keating who won national acclaim for his compassionate and professional handling of the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing says for Newtown the climb out will be long, searing and very difficult. He adds that 17 years after the bombing, “with private funds we are still putting children through college, providing counseling – particularly the first responders, firefighters and police officers and even proving medical care for the number of the badly injured.” Keating goes on to stress the importance of the community putting together a plan to address certain problems like long term counseling, particularly for the first responders who were some of the first to see the victims.
On the topic of gun control, Keating who received his first shotgun at the age of 11 says the question of whether people should, “be able to access, to purchase semiautomatic weapons with these clips, these magazines that provide for... unlimited firepower” needs to be debated and discussed. He adds, “We did once. I think we should do it again to ban those assault weapons.”
Keating says mental health, divorce, video violence and movie violence should also be topics of discussion moving forward. Reflecting on his own childhood he says, “We had guns. We went hunting after school, but none of us slaughtered out classmates.”