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I imagine I wasn’t even close to the only parent finding it hard to sleep last night.

Throughout this fitful night, I just couldn’t shake the mental images of CT out of my head, out of my heart. The photos of grief-stricken moms and dads shocked and saddened beyond belief, the images of scared tiny bodies running out of a school that should always be known as their sanctuary. And then I was saddened by the images not seen, the feelings beyond horrific of broken families, sisters and brothers, grandparents and uncles and aunts, and an entire society now saddled with an event that never should have been.

As a parent, I’m mourning for those mothers and fathers, and their children. As a citizen, I’m really, really angry. Angry that even despite the shooting–and the many others that have unfortunately become a regular occurrence in America–I find we are already getting caught up in the same nonsensical political debate: “Guns are the SOLE problem!!!” “No, guns aren’t the problem, crazy people are the problem!! Don’t tell me I can’t protect myself!”

I’m over it. Our society is the problem. Our fascination and perverted obsession with a culture of violence is the problem. Our inability to have a thoughtful and balanced discussion about this obsession is the problem.

How have we lost sight of the fact that these mass shootings are the result of the proliferation of and easy access to large assault rifles that can shoot an ungodly number of bullets in a very short period of time? Why can’t we as a society take a collective step back and question WHY these types of guns are allowed in such abundance on our streets, our neighborhoods, our schools, anywhere? Reading this post from a gun-owner just makes sense:

Really, the ONLY justification for these assault rifles and large magazines (other then the malicious intent to kill a lot of people quickly), is if you truly believe the delusion that we have to be prepared to one day fight off the oppressing might of the US military and/or UN, “Turner Diaries”-style.

I think the fact that these types of weapons are much less defensible creates, if not a good opportunity, at least the best we have to drive a wedge between the large gun-owning public and the far-right fanatics, and make near-future policy progress here. And banning these weapons would, while certainly not ending all shootings, dramatically reduce crazy people’s capacity to commit large-scale massacres.

Even as Obama wiped away tears while recounting the horrific events of yesterday, his press secretary told America that today was not the day to talk about gun control.

I beg to differ. Today is the day. Or better yet, yesterday. And tomorrow. But in this discussion we need to move beyond the divisive rhetoric of right v left, gun-toting v anti-everything. We must admit our addiction as a society. We must own up to our involvement as a community. And we must have a sober conversation about appropriate ways to move forward to ensure that those children will not be yet another statistic.

I understand the urge to close yourself off from the pain and step away from this event. As a mom, my first instinct is to do the same–turn off the news, cuddle my nearly school-aged daughter and toddler son. Hide in my beautiful bubble of family security, safety, and love. But to deny the severity of the problem is to contribute to the problem.

So what to do? I’m not sure. We need forums and open discussion. We need education and data to force us out of our shell. And we need congressional movement. I guess a no-brainer first step is to sign this petition:

Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress.

And then it is to use our power and conviction as PARENTS to demand change. If we can spend countless hours demanding arts enrichment, language immersion, and organic food in our children’s schools, surely we have the power to demand basic levels of safety. As my parenting columnist guru Lisa Belkin puts it (much more eloquently than I):

We cherish individuality in America. We see raising children as no one else’s business, and we have never managed to band together as a “parenting” bloc. It is time. Guns are a parenting issue and we need to control them in the name of the children who died this morning. Even more, we need to do it in the name of their mothers and fathers.

So cry today. Comfort your kids. Curse, and pray. Then pick up the phone, a pen, a keyboard, or your checkbook and make your demands heard.

What do you think? Are you rallying behind any campaigns? Community movements? Do we have the power and inclination to do something?

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