The recent school Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT cost 26 lives. It is everywhere I look on social media sights and in the news. People are holding candlelight vigils, holding their own children tight, and finding ways to grieve.
It was my initial expectation that this tragedy would lead to legislative action to help prevent future shootings and keep our children, our educators, our citizens safer. But I have read some things online that leave me deeply disturbed, and worried about our nation’s ability to work with one another to respond appropriately to this horrible tragedy – not just with candlelight vigils, but with action.
Candlelight vigils are important; we need to take time to grieve as individuals, communities and as a nation after what has happened. But I am no longer content to do a few commemorative things to make myself feel better and then get on with my busy holiday schedule. I am a mother of two, and my throat gets tight, my eyes burn, and my hands shake when I think of the possibility of living life after losing one of my children to violence. I cannot imagine the feelings of those who have lost theirs. We owe it to them, and to all of our children who we are still lucky enough to have with us, to do better.
Where do we go from here?
This is not a one solution problem. When I posted asking people to join me in sending extra holiday cards to legislators, I focused on gun reform. But as the heart-wrenching post titled “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” illustrates, we cannot forget the importance of making quality mental health care available in this country either.
Ask yourself; “What could help prevent a future shooting tragedy?” If you believe in advocating for better mental health care, I agree with you, let’s do it. If you believe that semi-automatic weapons have no place in a civilized society, I agree with you, let’s push for gun reform. If you believe that funding violence prevention programs and addressing school bullying is important, I agree with you. Let’s do it. What I don’t agree with is doing nothing.
Here are some things I believe:
I believe that everyone in this country who is of sound mind is horrified by the tragedy that occurred on Friday.
I believe that this nation is capable of change, great change, and that our legislative system is one of the most powerful instruments of change.
I believe that we can reform gun legislation without violating people’s second amendment rights, and without jeopardizing our citizens’ ability to hunt or to protect.
I believe that adding regulation to the process of purchasing and possessing firearms to increase people’s safety is not only possible but necessary.
Here are some things I do not believe:
I do not believe that arming our teachers is a realistic solution to this problem. I have actually read posts where people state that if a teacher in Newtown had had a gun, lives would have been saved. Even if it were realistic to expect our teachers to be trained in gun safety, and agree to carry firearms, can we possibly believe that having more guns in our classrooms is worth the risk to our children? One tired teacher forgetting to lock a cabinet is one too many. I believe it is a much more practical, economic, and sensible solution to make it more difficult for potential perpetrators to obtain firearms than it is to arm our teachers. I can’t believe I feel compelled by a number of online posts to write this.
I do not believe that second amendment rights necessitate hobbyists being allowed to purchase semi-automatic guns and 100 round magazines in order to have fun in their backyards.
I do not believe that illegalizing semi-automatic firearms and placing greater restrictions on gun sales is useless because “anyone determined to hurt people will find a way.” I don’t believe in making it easier for anyone to hurt my children, and if the number of people in this country who lock the doors to their cars and houses is any indicator, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Any extra step someone needs to take to obtain firearms is an extra chance for a family member, counselor, or law enforcement to notice that someone could be planning to hurt themselves or others and step in.
I hope that you will think hard about what you believe, and join me in supporting our legislators, our educators, and any organization that is doing work that helps prevent violence. Please help keep my children safe.