*My apologies for errors and typos--this one is off the cuff and unedited*
On Friday, I walked my three year old home from her school day knowing that many parents in Newtown, Connecticut would not have the same ending to their day. It was absolutely heartbreaking and I spent much of the afternoon watching the news and crying my eyes out—all while my little girl played upstairs, completely unaware of the evil in this world. Immediately, social media was flooded with people offering their condolences and stating that “today is not the day to discuss gun control or make this political.” I agree with the political statement. As a parent, I disagree with the gun control statement. If any day was a day to discuss gun laws and possible changes—I believe a day where twenty innocent little children with their lives ahead of them were gunned down is the day to discuss our society, our laws and what we can do to try and ensure that this never happens again.
I understand why people didn’t want to discuss action on Friday – we are all still reeling from the carnage, we are hurt, we are angry and we want to respect the deceased. But unfortunately our minds seem to be on a 24-hour news cycle; in which we will quickly move on to the next big news story and sweep this under the rug. This isn’t a new phenomenon—a mall in Oregon, a temple and spa in Wisconsin, a movie theater in Colorado and far, far too many schools across the country (Virginia Tech, Columbine, Paducah, Jonesboro to name a few). We can’t just grieve and move on to the next sensationalized story—our intrinsic job as parents is to protect our children. We should all be demanding something be done; things change in order to ensure our children are safe. Let’s look at it this way: when the 1-35 bridge in Minneapolis collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people here in neighboring Wisconsin and around the US we were asking if our bridges were safe and immediately our state (as well as others) began surveying if that sort of tragedy could occur on any of our own bridges. It happened once. We see gun violence in our streets daily and we’ve just accepted it. Where is our logic?
A study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery found that the gun murder rate in the U.S. is almost 20 times higher than the next 22 richest and most populous nations combined. All of those 22 nations have stricter gun control laws. Among the world’s 23 wealthiest countries, 80 percent of all gun deaths are American deaths and 87 percent of all kids killed by guns are American kids.
This is of course the point where people bring up that teachers should be armed, criminals will obtain guns no matter what or the founding fathers gave us the constitutional right to bear arms. Do we want our children to grow up in a country where their teachers have to learn how to teach them to read but must also learn how to shoot? Do we want our kids’ teachers to walk around the classroom helping children with a gun holstered to their side? What type of “civilization” are we if that’s what we’re reduced to? Many on Facebook posted about how they want to homeschool their children now. Should you have to make that decision based on fear? Is that the country we live in? Even if you choose homeschooling that won’t protect them—like previously mentioned this is happening in malls, spas, places of worship—everywhere.
Yes. Gun violence will continue no matter what. We have over 300 million weapons in the United States-they are pretty much here to stay. However, other countries allow gun ownership as well and yet see DRASTICALLY reduced numbers of fatalities (such as mentioned above). Why? It’s a complex answer that no doubt involves discussions of mental health treatment and assessment, education, parenting, cultural and socioeconomic issues to name a few. We should take a holistic approach to answering the question—but the answer is moot without discussing what these other countries have in the way of gun laws that we lack.
As far as the constitutional right and founding fathers are concerned let’s keep something in mind: the constitution was written in 1787 immediately following the bloodiest war the world had ever seen—of course they added the second amendment. They also added the third amendment which prohibits forced quartering of soldiers during peace time; they were in the mind frame of war at this time. I doubt highly that they were trying to protect the right for someone to walk into a school and execute 20 children. Also, we need to remember that this men at the time felt that African Americans were akin to cattle and horse—they were nothing more than possessions and they didn’t feel women needed or deserved the right to vote. We must weight this “right” against the cost of human life. Personally, I would give up my right to bear arms today if it would bring one of those children back. Human life to me is worth more than any ability to own a weapon and what am I teaching my daughters if I don’t stand up and demand this to end, demand change and demand a world which children’s biggest worries at school are their pop quizzes? So yes, I am hugging them a little tighter and praying for the people of Newtown, Connecticut – but I’m also e-mailing my politicians and demanding change.