It was the last day of school. My daughter donned her favorite dress and enthusiastically brushed and fixed her hair to say goodbye to her friends for the summer. As always, I walked her to the door and she quickly ran towards it. Right before she turned the corner she blew me a kiss and for some reason I can’t get that image out of my head.
Call me melodramatic, but what if that was the last image I had of my daughter alive? How many parents in this country have said goodbye to their children, only to have that be the last time?
The Newtown shooting had a profound impact on me. I was sitting in my home office listening to CNN (because that’s what a news junkie like me does) and I heard the breaking news “sting.” Within 30 minutes, I picked up my daughter from Pre-K and whisked her off to get our nails done. She would be in kindergarten next year and all I could think of was someone gunning her down inside her classroom filled with ABC’s and crayons.
Months later, we chose her elementary school based on the amount of security the school had, and the multi-step process it took to get in the door.
North Carolina has had four school shootings since the Newtown tragedy, making the state tied for fourth place with California. Think about that — a tie for fourth place with a state that could fit three “North Carolina’s” in its geographic area.
I’m starting to believe that it’s not if, but when our family has a brush with an act of gun violence. It’s not that I think that one of my children will get shot, but I expect that within the next 13 years of public school, I will at least once get a robo-call about a threat in or around the school. Then I think, if I truly believe that, what the hell am I doing sending my daughters to school at all?
I can’t place them in a bubble. I know that shootings happen inside malls, movie theaters, and on streets– and I know that this has to stop. This is me joining the chorus of people saying, “How many more children have to die?”
Our President regularly makes statements after each shooting. The media pundits echo his remarks. Every time, we re-post and share blogs and editorials in Facebook and Twitter. We’re all living in a cycle of determination and vindication shouting that something must change, and yet nothing ever does.
Gun control is part of it. Yeah – I said it; suck it NRA. I have no problem with the right to bear arms, but why the heck does any hunter or person who wants to protect his or her family need a semiautomatic handgun or assault rifle?
Let’s all get reasonable. If this is truly a crisis – and I believe it is – let’s step out from behind our party lines, and leave our guns, chipped shoulders, and NRA cards at the door. We can mutually agree that innocent people shouldn’t die because it’s easier for a 15 year old to get their hands on a gun than appropriate psychological attention. Let’s start there, and work backwards towards a solution. I believe in the end, gun owners can still keep weapons relevant for hunting and defense, and dangerous people won’t get their hands on weapons that no one has business possessing. Most importantly, our children will be safer.