One week ago tonight, I was on the back end of a business trip to Texas. My computer buzzed; Lori was calling me on google. I put the call on video. Elianna got on, then Aaron. Elianna put devil's horns on her head, then a mustache on Aaron's face. It was funny and silly and care-free. But I also missed my kids, and was counting down until I could be home again.
Early Friday afternoon, a holiday lunch was ending. The mood in the room was cheerful, volunteers were wrapping gifts for children served by a local charity. I checked facebook on my phone. A message said, "unable to move," and then, "god bless the 26, 18 of which were children. There are no words for this." I looked across the table, and asked to those who were still there, "Was there a shooting somewhere today?" Inevitably, the sad answer was yes.
It is my worst nightmare. I expect it is the worst nightmare of many, many parents. We drop our kids off at school, we wish them a great tell, tell them that we love them, we expect they will reunite when the school day is over... I saw a picture of Noah Pozner, the youngest of the children to die. He had just turned 6 years old. A winter coat, dark hair sticking up in back, sweetly smiling, big eyelashes. He looked not altogether unlike I looked at that age.
Shortly after, I read a blog post entitled, I Am Adam Lanza's Mother. It was a cry of help from a mother who feared for her mentally ill child, and in fear of her mentally ill child. She wrote: "In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it's easy to talk about guns. But it's time to talk about mental illness." The post went viral. Her small personal blog, which had received very few comments in its 4 year history, got thousands of new comments. On facebook, the post was liked more than a million times. The mother, Liza Long, was right: It is time - past time - to talk about mental illness.
Fortunately, relatively few of us who are parents will ever have the issues that Ms. Long claims, or that Mrs. Lanza had. But just having a child, that we know. We're already there.
I am not Noah Pozner's father. I don't pretend to be. But his reality is my nightmare. There is only so much a parent can do to protect their kids. So I do want to talk about guns. I want to talk about too many guns that can do too much damage and that can all too easily end up in the hands of people who are all too willing to use those guns to kill others. At 31 school shootings since Columbine, we are nationally out of control.
Adam Lanza's mother was described as a "gun enthusiast" who was very careful with her guns. She acquired her weapons legally. She broke no laws by having those guns in the home along with a child she knew to be mentally ill; one media report claimed that just days before the attack, she confided to a drinking buddy that "I'm worried I'm losing him." But the guns remained, legally, right up until the moment her son used one of them to kill her.
I'll start there. Whatever laws need to be changed so that the next parent can't have those guns in that place, change those laws. The combinations of the weapons and magazines and ammunition that the murderer used, there is no reason for civilians ever to have those. The 2nd Amendment protects the right of the people to bear arms; it does not protect the right of all people to bear all arms and all ammunition in any quantity. Many people have written sensible suggestions; some of the best I've seen have come from the Nicholas Kristof of New York Times.
If you agree, you can write your congressman or your senator. Stand up and be counted.
If you would like to sign an online petition, here are links to two of them:
Mayors Against Illegal Guns
New York Daily News
ADDENDUM: On December 21, Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association (NRA), called on Congress to "to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school in this nation." This is wrong, on so many levels. Presumably he'll be back to propose more appropriations for shopping malls, movie theaters, school buses, Jungle Javas, McDonald's Play Places, Chuck E. Cheeses, and anywhere else people -- especially children -- gather in large numbers. LaPierre didn't even have the decency to propose that appropriations come from new gun or ammunition taxes. Their answer to too many guns, is to add ever more guns.
This must stop. Stand up and be counted.
The Other Akin Comment
4 years ago