Funerals began this week for 20 children and seven adults in Connecticut killed by a young man with mental issues and access to automatic weapons. A stunned, sad and angry nation is in mourning.
At a memorial service Sunday, President Barack Obama cited scripture in reaching out to the community of Newtown:
"Do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly, we are being renewed day by day.
"For light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all, so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
"For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven not built by human hands."
Our hearts go out to all those affected by this tragedy, foremost to the families in Newtown, but to everyone who is grieving. In the midst of this immeasurable sadness may you feel God's presence and receive comfort and peace.
Friday's shootings bring up the issue of school and workplace safety. Officials with the Cape Girardeau and Jackson School Districts told the Southeast Missourian last week that security measures are in place at their campuses. We applaud the school districts for their efforts and hope all local schools and businesses, regardless of what safety measures already are in place, consider what can be done to make sure their campuses are secure.
The Southeast Missouri State University Department of Public Safety offers a safety training course. The program, called ALICE, stands for Alert, Lock down, Information, Counter and Evacuation. According to department officials, the training has been in high demand. It's offered as resources allow for schools and community organizations. The department also offers threat assessments to determine what risk factors should be addressed. To learn more or request training, call the department at 651-5923.
It's sad that school safety has come to this. The classroom should be a place students feel safe and can learn -- free of worry. There are things school districts can do to help secure their campuses, and it's important that administrators continue to look for ways in which security can be improved. In the end, there is only so much that schools can do to prevent the worst from the deranged.
Additional issues about mental health treatment, violence as portrayed in culture, gun access and the types of guns -- and ammunition -- available for purchase will be debated at the national level in the future. This is appropriate.