Friday, December 14, 2012

A Response to the CT School Shooting: I'm Sending My Extra Christmas Cards to Legislators

A photo card of our children, with a handwritten message asking a politician to help keep my children safe.  


How many children will it take before our country's gun policies change?  One of my friends posted a link to a well-written article in the New York Times about gun control in this country, titled Safe From Fire, but Not Guns.  The part that made me feel even sadder after reading the article was that it was written in July in response to the movie theater shooting, not today in response to what has happened at the elementary school in Connecticut.  It didn't provoke change in time to save those children's lives.

I believe that this country is capable of passing legislation that will keep people safer from guns.  I went to undergrad in Georgia, and I met some people who like guns a lot.  I don't agree with them, but I don't believe any of them aren't deeply saddened by what has happened today.  I'm not sure they would oppose legislation intended to restrict firearm sales and ensure that guns are sold to people who know how to use them safely, have pledged to store them safely, and have been checked out to make sure they don't have a criminal background or history of mental health issues.  That type of legislation would be an improvement on what we have now (I would advocate for even more extreme legislation), without removing guns from the people I knew who would never use them to harm a person.  I like Canada's requirement that two people vouch for someone buying a gun, as mentioned in the New York Times article linked above.  I had to have witnesses for my wedding, and it was a lot less dangerous.

Legislators in this country need to know that public opinion would support efforts to keep our children safer, and I would like them to know that they have my support now.  I don't need to see news of another child lost to gun violence to give my vocal support and my vote to gun-restrictions.

This afternoon, I took some of my extra Christmas cards and mailed them to my representatives asking them to do whatever they can to help pass laws that would keep my children safer from guns.

It's personal.  I am sending them my plea, with photos of my children, who I am lucky to still have, whom I hope will always be as safe from gun violence as they are today.  I hope it will help them realize that these horrible events may have influenced public opinion enough for them to bring about change that may prevent the loss of more of our children.

Perhaps you agree with me.  Perhaps you have extra holiday cards of your own, that you could scrawl a quick note on, letting someone know that you'd vote to restrict access to guns and keep our children safer.  Perhaps we can get the word to our legislators that this should be a priority.

Here's my letter, which I mailed with my address and full signature to four of my legislators:

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Dear Barney Frank, 

Today’s school shooting in Connecticut upset me very deeply as a parent.  I wonder if we had some of the gun safety laws adopted by other countries, if those children would still be alive.  I am worried about the lack of gun control in our country and about the safety of our children in our communities until there are better restrictions on firearms.

I know that legislation in our communities and country is influenced by public opinion, and I want you to know that I would support any and all legislation restricting the sales and possession of firearms in this country, nationally or locally.  I would support any legislation that would increase my children’s safety, whether it’s designed to regulate the purchasing of firearms or safety precautions once they’re in someone’s possession.

I am a mother, not a politician, and I realize that bringing about change can be difficult.  I am grateful for your public service, and am hoping that if there is any legislation you can think of that will help keep my children safer, that you will work towards it.  You certainly have my support.

Wishing you the best this holiday season and thanking you for your public service.

Sincerely,


Kelly

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UPDATE: It's been 5 days since I posted this blog and asked people to help me spread the word.  Thanks to my sister-in-law, who emailed the idea to her favorite bloggers, and bloggers such as http://www.natthefatrat.com/www.babyrabies.comwww.motleymama.comjulia-transition.blogspot.comjugglinglife.typepad.comwww.spillerena.com, I've had over two thousand hits to this post.  If even a fourth of those hits result in cards to legislators, every member of the house of representatives could receive cards asking them to work for laws that will keep our children safer.  I am deeply grateful to everyone who has participated by sending cards and spreading the word.

This afternoon, I received an e-mail from my mother that made me feel really hopeful and thankful.  Here it is.

I just had very nice call from Andrew McLean, my ME state legislator, thanking me for the letter and card.
These issues have been on his mind for years and he feels that this time, finally, positive action will be taken.
He plans to work for gun reform and with mental health issues. He expects to see both parties work toward solutions here in Maine.

Love,

Mum

Thank you.  

13 comments:

  1. Your sister-in-law directed me to this post and it is a wonderful idea. I will share this with my readers and will do this myself. I am blessed to have my four grown children with me this holiday and have been thinking about that blessing all morning as I prepare for Christmas. My heart is broken; please let this be the one that finally inspires intelligent dialogue and action.

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  2. Thank you, Jenn! I too hope this inspires dialogue and action. I appreciate your sharing this idea, I am hoping that it will be a way to get more people involved so our legislators know we're ready to vote to keep our children safe.

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  3. I just "borrowed" your letter to send to my representatives. Hope you don't mind -- you said it so well, didn't know how I could improve it by re-writing it. LOVE the extra Christmas cards idea. When they see those precious faces, how can they just dismiss us?

    Steph in North Carolina

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  4. I do not mind, and I am grateful to you and to everyone who is letting our legislators know they have our support and encouragement to respond to this horrible tragedy with action. They need to know that we care and they can count on our votes.

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    1. And thank you!!!! Thank you, thank you.

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  5. This is a great idea! I can only pray that this will work.

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  6. Wonderful idea and I just sent a copy to both of my Senators in Virginia. Americans for safety and peace<3

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  7. I linked here from Nat the Fat Rat and absolutely love this idea. Luckily, I have three extra cards, one for each of my senators and one for my representative.

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  8. Great post. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  9. Thank you for this idea! I just printed out the six addresses for my representatives and plan to do this tonight!

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  10. Kelly, when I heard the news of the massacre, my heart broke. I am the father of three small children: one toddler and two elementary school children. Whenever I see photos of the victims, I see my kids. When I see the aerial footage of the school, I see my kids school. I should also mention that I own a Bushmaster AR15.

    The most dangerous part of the debate about school safety and gun rights is the absence of factual data. Feeling or believing that guns are bad doesn't protect anyone, any more than putting up a sign in your yard that says "No thieves allowed" stops criminals from breaking in.

    In fact, the FBI's own crime statistics show that in cities with less stringent gun laws (where legal gun ownership is high) crime is lower than in cities with strict gun laws. Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.

    It's also worth mentioning that in the worst school massacre in US history, not a single gun was used (look up the Bath, Michigan school massacre - 38 children, 2 teachers, 4 other adults were murdered).

    I don't say any of this because I just love my guns so much. I say this because I want effective measures to be taken to protect my children, and going after guns won't do it. That is not feeling, desire, or belief. It is documented fact (see the studies done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Research Council, the US Department of Justice, and the University of Pennsylvania) that banning guns deemed "assault weapons" has no measurable effect on crime.

    http://www.sas.upenn.edu/jerrylee/research/aw_final2004.pdf

    As long as politicians are spending their time and energy trying to ban guns, they're NOT spending their time and energy on measures that will actually make our kids safer. I'm less concerned about my gun rights than I am about my kids' safety.

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Thank you for your comments. It sounds to me as though you are a heartfelt parent who truly believes what he is saying, and it’s people like you who may be willing to look harder at this issue for the sake of their children and realize that better gun control in this country is a necessity.

      You state that it’s “dangerous” that there is an “absence of factual data” about the guns, and that “feeling or believing that guns are bad doesn’t protect anyone”. Here’s my data: 26 dead in Newtown on December 14th, 2012. 15 dead in Columbine in 1999. 12 dead in Aurora in 2012. Data. Proof that semi-automatic weapons are killing large numbers of people. They are dangerous, they are unnecessary, and they are costing lives. What I consider “dangerous” is that hobbyists who love their guns are unwilling to give up their own semi-automatic weapons in order to prevent future shooting sprees. Semi-automatic weapons aren’t good for hunting. If you’re experienced shooting a gun, you don’t need more than a handgun to protect yourself. If you’re not experienced with shooting a gun, then you shouldn’t be allowed to use a semi-automatic weapon. There is no good reason for any civilian to own a semi-automatic weapon. Peter Bergen at CNN has written an article stating that gun violence is a national security issue, with some compelling numbers. You can read it at http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/18/opinion/bergen-guns-national-security/index.html

      You state (without providing a reference) that the FBI’s crime statistics show that cities with more gun ownership have lower crime rates. Don’t confuse correlation with causality. There is no proof that gun ownership causes these lower crime rates. Less stringent gun laws and higher rates of gun ownership are more prominent in parts of this country nicknamed “the Bible belt”. My friend who is a minister would argue that faith reduces crime rates, not gun ownership. The point is, neither of you can prove a cause-and-effect relationship. What we can prove is that people are dying because of guns. An armed security guard at Columbine high school was not able to stop the school shooting. More guns aren’t the answer.

      You mention a school massacre with a high death toll that was accomplished without the use of guns. Pointing fingers at violence that was accomplished without the use of guns is a smoke and mirrors trick to distract from the truth that guns are being used to kill large numbers of people. If my tires were faulty and I got into a car accident, no one would remind me that plenty of people die in car accidents not caused by faulty tires. Yes, there are many different contributors to violence, and many ways that we can work towards violence prevention. This is not a one solution problem; we need to address mental health care availability as well. I wrote a little about this in a follow up blog post. Saying that guns aren’t a problem is wrong. They are, and we have to do something about it.

      You claim that the attention on guns is preventing politicians from focusing on things that will actually keep our children safer. I think the denial of gun-enthusiasts like you is preventing politicians from being able to take quick legislative action against weapons that we know are costing lives, and then move on to addressing other ways we can make our children safer. I hope you will reconsider whether you can with good conscience claim that semi-automatic weapons have a place in our society. Please lock up your gun, store your ammunition separately, and think hard about this. You owe it to your children.

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