On Saturday, a long-time reader emailed me. She knew I would likely be writing about the shootings in Connecticut and she wanted to share a post her sister-in-law had written. I hope you click through; her idea is to send her photo Christmas card to politicians urging them to consider passing sensible legislation on the issue of gun control.
I love this idea and will be doing it.
Last week I was asking you to weigh in on sartorial choices and quipped about all my airport runs. Social Butterfly came home Thursday, Mr. Fix-it late Friday afternoon and Danger Boy Friday night. MVP will be home Wednesday; Grownup Girl and Grownup Guy are already here.
I will have my family home for Christmas. We will take a picture and I will rush to edit it and order cards from Costco and get them out if not in time for Christmas, then for New Year’s.
My heart breaks for those families in Connecticut; it is a cliché, but it is the only statement I can make that comes close to expressing what I feel.
Equal to my heartbreak is the rage I feel that this society seems beholden to the notion that we are not allowed to discuss gun control. That the NRA calls the shots for all of us. That taking on the right to bear arms without significant and sensible restriction is verboten.
I know the issue is not only gun control. I know that access to mental health is a huge piece of the puzzle. It only makes sense that letting out children watch violent movies at impressionable ages cannot be good for them. And we should address those issues, we really should.
But right now, today, we should demand that guns--specifically the ones that are weapons of mass destruction--be kept out of the hands of those who have no reasonable need to possess them. As this tragedy unfolded, I sat at work watching clips on CNN. I shared what was happening with those that came to use the copier. I had a discussion with the retired law enforcement officer that runs the Criminal Justice program. I her I am not anti-gun and that I understand that the second amendment plays a part in our rights to possess firearms and that there are those that hunt for food and sport, but why on god's green earth does a hunter need to possess any weapon other than a plain old rifle to hunt deer. She shrugged and said sarcastically, "It must be in case the deer is also armed."
I am ashamed of myself that it took the slaughter of 20 innocent Kindergartners before I felt compelled to really raise my voice about this. I feel like I was a lobster placed in cold water that is now beginning to boil.
My children have never known a society where they weren't prepared in the even of a lockdown (basically a euphemism for school shooter). I have huddled under tables with first-graders during a lockdown drill. I told my own children to ignore the school's direction to hide in the bathroom if that's where they were when the lockdown happened and all the bungalow doors were locked. "Run and hide in the trees," I told them, "you'd be a sitting duck in the bathroom." "Run in a zig-zag pattern because you're harder to shoot that way." I remember the neighbor girl hiding with her classmates in the bushes as a helicopther hovered overhead when an actual lockdown happened due to an unfolding police chase.
I accepted this as reality because I accepted that Americans would never do anything about virtually unfettered access to firearms due to all the loopholes and shortcomings in our laws today.
I refuse to accept this reality any longer. No automatic or semi-automatic weapons should be in the hands of non-police, non-military personnel. There should be waiting periods and background checks and home visits and psychiatric evaluations before you can get a gun. If you do own a gun, the penalty for you allowing your weapon to fall into someone else's hands should be severe--up to you being charged as an accessory if your weapon is used by someone to commit a crime.
Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are living, breathing principles subject to change as the world changes. Semi-automatic rifles used to slay innocent babies en masse are not what our founding fathers had in mind when they crafted the second amendment.
This is enough.
P.S. I have at least one reader who is very pro-second amendment and a gun enthusiast. She is a smart woman with whom I've had several discussions on various issues; I like her very much. It is my hope she will contribute her thoughts and that it will be possible to have rational discourse on this topic. I hope the comments are passionate but respectful.
I often have back and forths on Facebook with my BIL who lives in MIssissippi and a friend in Seattle both of whom have very different views than I do on most social issues; we generally end up finding some common ground and we always keep it civil. The world needs more of these discussion.
P.P.S. I have to proactively present a counterargument for the common clalim that the real problem is that nobody at the school was armed. First off, a Kindergarten teacher with a gun is about the scariest thing I can imagine. In order to have it ready to use in case of an attack those children would be in constant danger of an accidental shooting. I shudder thinking about it. Additionally, being a well-trained gun enthusiast sure didn't prevent Adam Lanza's mother from being murdered. I cannot fathom how anybody could possibly think that more guns in the hands of more peole is the answer to this problem.