The day had gone from being a routine December Friday in a historic and ornamented slice of CT, to a frenzy of standstill traffic, hovering helicopters palatable anxiety, and a swarm of media lining the narrow Sandy Hook sidewalks; the glow of holiday decorations all but obliterated by the harsh glare of their television lights.
The public is owed more information. We all want to know if there were opportunities to forestall such a gruesome tragedy. At the same time, we need to ensure that his story does not provide an insupportable platform for demonizing those with a mental illness.
I was one of a small group of volunteer Red Cross mental health professionals dispatched to Sandy Hook immediately after the shootings. We sought to both offer a compassionate presence and more direct counsel. But the practice of early mental health response to tragedy and disaster remains controversial.
Perhaps we vindicate Job by refusing to blame the poor for their poverty, by proclaiming the story of a mother who lost her child to a random act of gun violence, or by listening to the suffering of refugees in war-torn countries such as Syria.
On December 14, I sat in a firehouse surrounded by large group of concerned parents all wanting to know where our missing children were. I didn't know any of them. I didn't know that I would form a bond with this group of strangers that would forever connect us through tragedy.
Terrorism is politically motivated, and most gun violence in our nation is not. But when it comes to the impact of the easy availability of guns, it is hard to argue against the premise that we are being terrorized.
With quiet competence and courage, never having confronted this kind of horror before, Antoinette started talking to the young man, and surprisingly, he started talking back.
Sure, the NRA and gun lovers will kick and scream as they always do, but at some point, America must draw the line against letting those groups jeopardize our safety and take a stand for our right to be free of gun violence.
Though we suffer too, we're aware that it is only a small fraction of hurt compared with yours. So we hold each of you in our thoughts and in our hearts because that's something we can do.
We all give ourselves labels: liberal, conservative, gun owner, gun reformer, but none of those are instinctive. They are not in our DNA. Perhaps maternal instincts are the key to solving the horrific problem of gun violence.
As "Sandy Hook Moms," we often hear the phrase "I can't imagine what you are going through." Well, please imagine it. Imagine what it's like to lose a son or daughter to gun violence and encourage your elected officials to do the same.
I'm a real-life gun guy. I own a gun shop and I have sold more than 15,000 guns. I'm also a member of the NRA. The NRA won because people like me, people who really know what guns can do when they are irresponsibly used, didn't have a way to make their voices heard.
You have been profiles in courage. And it saddens me that your courage could not be honored by the passage of sensible gun control legislation.
Last week's vote on sensible gun reforms was a tragedy. That is not hyperbole. As a result of the vote that was taken, people will die. I also believe it is the tragedy that will finally lead to real and lasting change.
Safe means that you are being your best self and living the life you've imagined even in the face of uncertainty. It means that you are being kind and brave -- to yourself and to others -- even if you are afraid. Even when you don't know what's going to happen next.