I grieve along with the entire country at the completely senseless death of 17 people, mostly kids, on Valentines’s Day in Florida. We have become so immune to school shootings, and mass shootings in general, that we express outrage, sadness, we post our opinions on social media, then… we move on. Until the next one. Repeat. Politicians offer ‘thoughts and prayers.’ NOTHING CHANGES.
I’ve been an advocate against gun violence for over twenty years — serving on boards of organizations devoted to protecting children from gun violence, writing essays, doing benefits and charity events— but something snapped in me this time. I couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t stop crying. I felt overwhelmed with shame, that there are no adults protecting our children from being massacred at school, that we accept this. Well, I don’t accept it.
I think about those kids: taking a test, practicing sports, maybe waiting for a college acceptance after they had worked so hard on their application, looking forward to a prom, falling in love. All with real futures, like the ones we dream of for our own kids. Gone. And all their families shattered forever. Forever. That’s it— you don’t get over having your child’s body torn apart by a military-style assault weapon.
Don’t tell me anymore that it’s a ‘mental illness’ problem or that the shooter had ‘bad parenting’. It’s a GUN PROBLEM. We have the same rate of mental illness and bad parenting as every other wealthy, developed country and yet we are the only country where this regularly happens. No citizen should be able to own an AR-15, the weapon of choice for mass shooters. How is it possible that a disturbed 19 year old, who cannot even buy alcohol legally, can walk into a store and buy this weapon, designed only to inflict the maximum toll on human life, with total ease? What kind of country allows this? Only the United States. The Second Amendment does not guarantee your right to own your own military-style arsenal. We have a gun murder rate 25 times higher than peer nations. I am sick of hearing ‘if the teachers had been armed…’. Please. Shall we all be forced to become individual paramilitary forces? What about my right NOT to own a gun? Should a first-grade teacher keep an assault rifle in her desk, next to the crayons and gold stickers, and whip it out when a shooter bursts into the room? What kind of fantasy world is that? A nightmare.
We are the grownups in the room.
That kid in Florida who looked in the camera and said “We’re children! You’re the adults, so do something!” cut me to the bone. They are our responsibility and we roll the dice every time we send them out the door, and it’s our fault. It doesn’t have to be like this.
My children’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness trumps your right to own an arsenal of military-style weapons.
I am a single-issue voter and you can bet I am going to do everything I can to vote the politicians who are beholden to the gun lobby, who take vast amounts of money from the NRA and other pro-gun lobbying groups, OUT OF OFFICE.
p.s. I support these groups. They can help mobilize your instinct for change: