Now that the pictures are posted everywhere, their 20 little faces haunt me.
For years, I have talked about my opinons about our country’s gun laws to anyone who would listen. When asked why I primarily vote for Democratic Party candidates, generally gun control is the issue I mention first. On Mother’s Day in 2000, I attended the Million Mom March in Washington, D.C., but that has been the extent of my so-called “activism.” Since that time, except for voting and an occasional forwarded link on Facebook, I have done little else but run my big mouth. With each mass shooting, I shake my head and say something should be done. Columbine, Virginia Tech, D.C. sniper attacks, Tuscon, Aurora, the mall in Oregon just last week. And now those precious little ones and their brave teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. And this list is only a small representation of the mass shootings in the US in the past few decades. SOMEONE should do something, right?
While I did not pull that trigger on Friday, I can’t help but feel that I bear partial responsibility for the deaths of those little ones.
I was sobered by these words that I read this week:
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. Every one of those nations has stricter gun control laws.
And then there’s this fact: add together all the gun deaths in the 23 wealthiest countries in the world and 80 percent of those are American deaths. Of all the children killed by guns in those nations, 87 percent are American kids.
I am not so naive that I believe that stricter gun laws will entirely eliminate violence in our society. There are many other issues involved in these situations, including a culture that glorifies violence and gives media attention to desparate, attention seeking individuals who are in need of mental health care. All of these issues need to be addressed, but I feel strongly that our first priority needs to be evaluating very seriously our love affair with guns in this country and what we are willing to sacrifice to maintain our “right” to own guns that are created primarily to kill other human beings. At the very least, in my opinion, we must reinstate the ban on assault weapons and eliminate access to high capacity ammunition clips.
Today, finally, way too late for those children in Connecticut, I decided to do something other than talk. First, as I have been doing since Friday, I prayed and wept and prayed. Then I wrote to the President. I also wrote to my Senator and my Congressional representative. I signed a petition and I emailed the President of our local chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to see what else I can do. And then, I told my children that I did those things so that they would know that the adults in their lives are not helpless in the face of tragedy. We have a voice and we will use it to protect them and keep them safe.
Now I am writing this blog to invite you, if you are led to do so, to join me. I would love to hear from you in the comments, if you do.
I am encouraged today by the number of politicians who are making statements about a desire to take action. I was encouraged last night by the resolve I saw in the President’s eyes as he spoke to the grieving families of the victims. But, it is not enough for them to make promises. We have heard promises before. We must hold them accountable and let them know we have not forgotten once the media coverage subsides. They, after all, work for us.
One of the little girls in the photos reminds me of my niece Amanda Jane, who is only a year or so older than the kids in Newtown. I allowed myself to “go there” in my mind…to picture my sweet AJ in the situation those kids faced…a gun that fired continually for endless minutes, most of them shot multiple times by a stranger loaded down with hundreds of rounds of ammunition and guns that fired and fired and fired. I wept again and vowed that this time, we must do more than pray.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”- Edmund Burke